Japan says no to deployment

IssueMarch - May 2004
News by Reuben Easey

The deployment of Japanese troops in Iraq, which began in January and is the first such operation since the second world war, continues to attract opposition from the majority of Japanese people.

Many view the sending of troops to Iraq as a violation of the country's post-war constitution, which renounced war forever; and though the soldiers are serving in a purely “humanitarian” capacity, there are fears that they could be drawn into armed conflict.

The defence ministry in Tokyo has been the site of peace demonstrations since the first soldiers of the “Self-Defence Force” left for Iraq in January; the full, 1000-strong force, should be in place by March.

In December, War Resisters International members in Nagoya gained entry to the local Komaki military base, with copies of a letter addressed to the wives of all the servicemen. The letter, written by WRI Japan member Fu Mizuta, encouraged them not to feel guilty for having objections to the war, and informed them of the many seldom-publicised desertions by US soldiers.

Surveys suggest that at least two thirds of the Japanese population are opposed to the SDF deployment to Iraq.