US Urges Japan to Return to Afghanistan
Japanese naval contribution halted by domestic politics
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2007 1:25 PM CST
Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, left, speaks as U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates looks on during their joint press conference in Tokyo, Japan, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007. U.S. Defense Secretary...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Japan today to resume a naval support mission for US operations in Afghanistan, Reuters reports. Japan has conducted refueling operations in the region for the past six years at a cost of approximately $195 million. The mission was stopped earlier this month after an opposition party, citing lack of a UN mandate, withdrew support.

"This is not [just] between the United States and Japan, but rather [about] Japan's contribution to a broad international coalition that is involved in trying to bring freedom in Afghanistan," Gates said, noting that Japan's mission aided more than 40 countries. Urging Japan to play a greater role in global security, particularly concerning North Korea, is the object of Gates' visit.