Japan's most prominent opposition leader yesterday rebuffed an appeal by visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to maintain its support for the "war on terror" in Afghanistan, which has been unpopular here.
The opposition seized one house of parliament in elections last month following a raft of domestic scandals. It wants Japan to bring home its ships which refuel US and other warjets and vessels in the Indian Ocean.
"You don't have to follow the unilateral opinion of the United States," main opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa told Merkel in a meeting, as quoted by Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, the opposition's shadow foreign minister.
Merkel has called for as many countries to take part in the "war on terror" as possible.
After meeting on Wednesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Merkel said that the international community must "never give in to the threat of terror."
Germany is heavily involved in Afghanistan, where it has contributed some 3,000 troops to the NATO-led International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) and has six Tornado reconnaissance planes helping to spot Taliban hideouts.
"I am against the current ISAF deployment, although I would support a deployment clearly authorized by a decision of the United Nations," Ozawa told her, according to Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi quoted Merkel as telling him: "If Japan is to play a greater role in the international community, it has to take greater responsibility."
Japan has been officially pacifist since its defeat in World War II, making all of its deployments overseas controversial.
Some 54.6 percent of Japanese voters oppose extending the Indian Ocean mission, said a survey of 1,000 voters released yesterday by the right-leaning newspaper Sankei Shimbun.
Abe, an outspoken conservative, has championed a stronger military role for Japan and revision of the US-imposed 1947 Constitution.
He said after Ozawa's rebuff of Merkel that he would continue to seek cooperation with the main opposition Democratic Party on extending the Indian Ocean mission.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500