Abe resigns to save Japan’s Afghan military mission

Japan’s outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he resigned to break a deadlock in parliament over Japan’s support for US-led operations in Afghanistan. Former foreign minister Taro Aso, who shares Abe’s pro-remilitarization agenda, is considered the frontrunner to take over as party leader and, consequently, prime minister. Under the proposed plan, the Air Self-Defense Forces would provide airlift support for NATO’s ISAF mission in Afghanistan, a provision of a new law planned to replace the current counter-terrorism law that expires Nov. 1. The new legislation would also continue and expand the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s NATO-linked refueling mission in the Indian Ocean. (Euronews, Sept. 12; Japan Times, Sept. 9)

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber on a motorized rickshaw blew himself up in a crowded marketplace in Helmand province Sept. 10, killing 28 in one of the deadliest attacks since the fall of the Taliban. The attacker was apparently targeting a police commander when he detonated his bomb near a taxi stand in the town of Gereshk. (AP, Sept. 11)

See our last posts on Afghanistan and Japan.