Japan's naval refueling ship return home from Indian Ocean

11:17, February 07, 2010      

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Japan's two Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) ships returned to Japanese territory Saturday, marking an end to eight-year refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in and around Afghanistan.

The 13,500-ton supply ship Mashu and the 4,550-ton destroyer Ikazuchi arrived at Harumi Wharf in Tokyo Bay, following Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa's Jan. 15 order to terminate the Indian Ocean mission supplying oil and water to vessels used by international forces engaged in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama welcomed the MSDF staff at the wharf, praising them for their performance in the operations.

He said that experiences accumulated in the refueling operations "will certainly serve for Japan's future foreign and security policies."

The law authorizing the missions expired at midnight on Jan. 15.

Japan's new center-left government has pledged to step up humanitarian aid to the war-torn country, including job training for former Taliban soldiers and five billion U.S. dollars in civilian aid to Afghanistan.

According to the defense ministry, since 2001, U.S. and Pakistan vessels have been the primary recipients of Japan's refueling mission.

Source: Xinhua
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