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Japan Could Dispatch 1,500 Troops to the War Against Terrorism - 2001-11-14


American and Japanese defense officials held a second round of talks in Tokyo Wednesday on the Japanese military's role in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. Media reports say Japan could dispatch 1,500 troops in its first overseas wartime deployment since World War II.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his cabinet are expected to approve on Friday plans outlining Japan's military involvement in the U.S. led strikes on suspected terrorist sites in Afghanistan.

Domestic media reports say Tokyo could provide 1,500 military personnel, up to seven warships and seven C-130 transport planes. That includes three ships that were dispatched to the Indian Ocean Friday to gather intelligence and chart a route for other Japanese ships, which could follow as early as next week.

The plans fit strictly within new laws that expand the role of the country's military to offer non-combat support to the U.S. led effort. Japan's post-World War II constitution places strict limits on the country's military and bars it from taking part in international conflicts.

Toshihiro Nakayama is a research fellow at The Center for American Studies in Tokyo. He says a majority of the Japanese people supports the new laws and helping in the war on terrorism. "I think the whole purpose of the new law was to help and to support the United States. However, our perception was the September 11th attack was not an attack just on the United States but it was an attack on the international society as a whole. That is why we felt the need to participate in a positive manner to fight this new international threat," Nakayama said.

Japanese and American defense officials ironed out some of the details of Japan's wartime role Wednesday when they met for the second time in as many weeks. According to the U.S. Embassy, the Japanese officials gave details on the military preparations now underway, and the U.S. side thanked Japan for its coordination efforts.

Japan's Kyodo news agency says Tokyo is also set to announce that it will give $300 million in financial aid to Pakistan. The funds are meant to help ease the burden from the influx of Afghan refugees into the country.