Japan’s upper house votes to end Iraq air mission

Japan’s House of Councillors passed a bill Nov. 28 to end the nation’s air force mission in Iraq. Japan withdrew its ground troops from Iraq in July 2006, but a Japanese unit stationed in Kuwait still provides air support for the Multi-National Force-Iraq. The bill, which passed 133-103, is supported primarily by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)—and is not expected to pass the more powerful House of Representatives, dominated by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). (Jurist, Nov. 28)

Also Nov. 28, prosecutors ordered the arrest of former senior vice minister Takemasa Moriya, his wife Sachiko and a former defense contractor in a scandal which has also implicated the finance minister. Moriya, “emperor of the defense ministry” before he retired in August, has publicly admitted accepting fine dining, gifts and hundreds of golf rounds paid by the contractor Yamada Corp. He denies offering anything in return. But prosecutors alleged Moriya and his wife knew they were “entertained as rewards for the favors they had extended in Yamada Corp.’s supply of equipment and other items to the Self-Defence Forces.” The upper house has summoned Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga, who was formerly defense chief, to testify on the scandal next week. (AFP, Nov. 28)

These developments come days after Sapporo district court dismissed a lawsuit asserting that deployment of Japanese troops in Iraq violated Article 9 of the constitution. The suit was brought by 33 local citizens. Similar suits have been filed in district courts in 10 other regions, with most ruling in favor of the government. (Jurist, Nov. 19)

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