Japan extends Afghanistan naval support mission
Tokyo, October 26, 2006 (Reuters) - Japan approved on Friday a law extending for another year a naval mission in the Indian Ocean that provides rear-guard support for U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan.
The law was approved by the upper house of Parliament by a majority vote. It passed the more powerful lower house last week.
The law, which enabled Japan to send its navy to the Indian Ocean mainly to help refuel ships, first came into effect in November 2001 in the face of widespread opposition. It was the first dispatch of Japanese forces to a war situation since World War Two.
The legislation also set the stage for a separate, more controversial law allowing the deployment of Japanese troops to Iraq on a reconstruction mission that ended in July.
Shinzo Abe, who became prime minister a month ago, has promised to tighten ties with the United States, a key security ally, and work toward rewriting Japan's pacifist constitution.