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Japan pledges help in terror fight

Junichiro Koizumi
Koizumi said Wednesday that his government will consider amending Japanese law in order to permit Japan's military to play a more active role in the war against terrorists.  

TOKYO (CNN) -- Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced a plan Wednesday to provide logistical support, intelligence, and other help to the United States in its response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"We consider this an attack on all people of the world, and on freedom and peace," he said in a televised news conference.

Koizumi said his government will also consider amending Japanese law in order to permit Japan's military, called the Self Defense Force, to play a more active role in the war against terrorists.

Japan's pacifist constitution, written by the United States at the end of World War II, prohibits the use of force.

Japanese law does not allow the Self Defense Force - which is actually a well equipped military -- to engage in any combat except for the direct defense of Japanese soil.

But amending the law in parliament will take time. Citing an urgent need for "swift and comprehensive" action, Koizumi announced that the Japanese government will take the following "immediate measures," which he said are permitted by existing law:

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• Dispatch the SDF to provide support such as medical services, transportation and supplies to U.S. forces and others responding to the recent terrorist attacks

• Strengthen protection of "important facilities in Japan, including facilities and areas of the U.S. forces"

• Dispatch SDF warships to gather information and intelligence

• Strengthen international cooperation and information exchange on immigration control

• Extend humanitarian, economic, and other necessary assistance to "surrounding and affected countries." This would include emergency economic assistance to Pakistan and India

• Provide assistance to "displaced persons." This would likely be carried out by the SDF

• Take "appropriate measures in response to the changing situation to avoid confusion in the international and domestic economic systems."

Japanese officials say Koizumi hopes to avoid the international criticism Japan received during the Gulf War in 1991, when it provided $13 billion in aid to the war effort, but no manpower.

The SDF deployments he announced are likely to be the largest deployment of Japanese troops overseas since World War II, although this time, they will not be allowed to fight.

Koizumi emphasized he has no plans to change Japan's constitution, which enshrines pacifism as a national goal.

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