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Japan extends anti-terrorism refueling operation in Indian Ocean

TOKYO, Dec 12 (KUNA) -- The Japanese parliament on Friday approved a one-year extension of refueling operations in the Indian Ocean through January 2010 to help US-led anti-terrorism operations in and around Afghanistan.
Welcoming the enactment, Prime Minister Taro Aso said, "It is indeed significant. Maritime interdiction operations are underpinning efforts in Afghanistan by intercepting and deterring terrorist activities." The bill was voted down at the opposition-controlled Upper House earlier in the day, but the more powerful Lower House dominated by the ruling coalition used its power to override the rejection.
Japan's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean, which started in December 2001 after the September 11 terror attacks on the US, is set to expire on January 15. It was suspended last year after the opposition parties won the Upper House and insisted the officially pacifist nation should not take part in "American wars." But the mission was resumed earlier this year. As part of the fight against terrorism, the Maritime Self-Defense Force has been refueling foreign vessels involve the antiterrorism operations in and near Afghanistan. (end) mk.ema KUNA 121131 Dec 08NNNN