Japanese PM Pushes Restart of Afghan Duty

Bill passes one house, but showdown could still trigger an early election
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2007 10:21 AM CST
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, right, and Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama bow after Japan's lower house of parliament approved a resumption of the country's anti-terrorism naval mission in the...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The lower house of Japan's Diet approved a bill today that would resume the country's naval support for the war in Afghanistan. The legislation, pushed through just days before PM Yasuo Fukuda travels to Washington, will allow the Japanese self-defense force to refuel American ships on their way to the Mideast. But the bill's passage in the Diet's upper house isn't assured, and a stalemate could trigger an early election, Reuters reports.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party lost its majority in the upper house in the last day's of Shinzo Abe's premiership, and the opposition is vowing to prevent the bill's passage. If that happens, early elections might become unavoidable. Ichiro Ozawa's recent rescission of his resignation has exposed cracks in the opposition, and Fukuda might be tempted to exploit a fragile moment and go to the polls.