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Japanese PM vows to continue antiterrorism refueling missions
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16:10, September 10, 2007

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed Monday in a policy speech to extend the law authorizing the refueling for U.S.-led antiterrorism operations and emphasized his priority to handle the public's top concerns.

On the first day of an extraordinary Diet session, Abe told the parliament that the mission carried out by the Maritime Self- Defense Force (MSDF) in the Indian Ocean is "the kind of international contribution that the world is anticipating from Japan."

Abe said that he was aware of the calling for him to resign, but he added, "We must by all means depart from the postwar regime. I have set my mind on continuing my premiership as we must not let the reforms stop."

The premier said that he will continue Japan's diplomatic policy and reiterated that Japan will work up with other nations to resolve abduction issue and the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

On domestic policy, the premier said that he will endeavor to boost people's confidence in the pension system. He also said that administrative reforms and fiscal expenditure cuts will be implemented thoroughly.

He also voiced his expectation for the parliament to thoroughly discuss a revision to the political funds control law, in response to the political fund problems and other money scandals that have tainted his administration.

Abe has been under the pressure to quit the post among a series of scandals involving his Cabinet ministers earlier this year, especially after his party's failure to maintain majority in the upper house election in July. The Cabinet reshuffle he then led late last month apparently hasn't improved the situation much, with a farm minister resigned over fund scandal in less a week after assuming post.

On Sunday, the premier hinted at resignation at a press conference after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney, saying that "I have no intention of clinging to my duties" as prime minister if he cannot have the parliament agree the extension of the refueling mission for U.S.-led antiterrorism operations.

The law extension will be a major issue in the coming parliament debate. The Democratic Party of Japan, who now has majority votes in the House of Councilors, has repeated its opposition to prolonging the law.

The special antiterrorism law was originally enacted in October 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. The two-year law has been extended three times to continue the MSDF deployment in the Indian Ocean.

Source: Xinhua

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