Mon, Sep 28, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Japan mulls using military aircraft to deliver aid in Afghanistan: report

AFP , TOKYO

Japan is considering using military aircraft to deliver relief supplies to Afghan refugees as an alternative to its naval mission supporting US-led operations in Afghanistan, a report said yesterday.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama plans to end the Indian Ocean naval refueling mission, which expires in January.

The alternative plan would use C-130 transport aircraft to deliver food, tents and other supplies to the estimated 1.8 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the Nikkei Shimbun reported, without naming sources.

After talks with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the US, Hatoyama said he would move quickly to find a way to provide support to Afghanistan.

“I’m aware that the Afghan issue should come first,” Hatoyama said. “Our coalition government needs to show a reasonable course on Afghanistan — one of the two biggest subjects.”

During a meeting with Obama on Wednesday, Hatoyama proposed fresh support for Afghanistan such as job training for former soldiers in the country as a possible alternative to the refueling mission.

While in opposition, his party briefly forced a halt to the naval mission, arguing that Japan — officially pacifist since World War II — should not abet “American wars.”

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