The US ambassador urged Japan yesterday to extend its naval mission in the Indian Ocean, saying it would be "a real tragedy" if Tokyo dropped out of the battle against terrorism.
Japan has refueled US-led warships in the Indian Ocean since 2001, but withdrew the mission last month when the opposition -- which controls the upper house of parliament -- blocked its extension.
Ambassador Thomas Schieffer said Japan would have to decide whether it wants to be part of the international effort to combat terrorism or not.
"It would be a real tragedy if somehow Japan tried to opt out of the war on terror," he told reporters at his Tokyo residence. "It's just an issue that requires a unified international community to make any headway against."
Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) last week extended the current session of the Diet in an effort to push through the legislation, which would renew the mission but limit Japan to refueling ships on anti-terrorism patrols.
Under that version of the bill, Japan could not support ships directly related to the US-led forces fighting in Afghanistan.
Schieffer said the legislative battle would be a test of whether the government would be able to function with the opposition in control of one house of parliament. The LDP controls the more powerful lower house.
The measure "will be a good indication if whether the government is able to act when it wants to, or if political gridlock is the result," Schieffer said.
He has been a vocal advocate of the bill, meeting with opposition lawmakers and others to argue for its passage.
The Afghan mission was part of Japan's response in support of the US following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Japan dispatched a humanitarian ground unit to southern Iraq in 2004 for two years and still has a logistical unit in Kuwait.
The US bases 50,000 troops in Japan under a security treaty, and Schieffer said he had hoped the strength of the US-Japan alliance would be beyond politics.
"It's a little disappointing to see that somehow the alliance has become the focus of a political fight between the two parties," he said.
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
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
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and