Japan’s controversial refueling of warships in the Indian Ocean to assist the United States fight against terror in Afghanistan is over. The ended mission involved Japanese ships based in the Indian Ocean monitoring possible terrorist activity at sea while providing fuel and supplies to allied vessels.
The initiative was shrouded in controversy, with opposition politicians criticising its lack of UN mandate and claiming that it violates the country’s pacifist constitution.
The mission was also cast into the spotlight when it was claimed that fuel supplied by the Maritime Self-Defense Force in February 2003 may have been used by US forces during operations in Iraq.
It was in 2001 that Japan began its Indian Ocean mission in support of anti-terrorism operations in and around Afghanistan, supplying millions of gallons of fuel to coalition warships from the US, Britain and Pakistan.
Political gridlock in the Japanese parliament resulted in the mission being stopped for three months, before the outgoing Prime Minister invoked a rarely-used power to force the legislation through.
Photo by: MJTR