Japan PM pleads for support of stalled anti-terror naval mission

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda pleaded for support Tuesday for a bill to resume Japan's anti-terror naval mission in the Indian Ocean, but the legislation remained stalled in the opposition-controlled upper house of parliament. Japan's warships had refueled vessels from countries in the US-led coalition fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, but withdrew on Nov. 1 after opposition parties raised concerns the operations did not have explicit support from the United Nations and possibly violated Japan's pacifist constitution. The sudden retreat was a major embarrassment for the administration of Fukuda, who has been a staunch supporter of a continued presence for Japan in the region. The government has submitted to parliament a bill that would allow the ships to be deployed again, but in a more limited role. The lower house of parliament, which is controlled by Fukuda's ruling party, passed the bill earlier this month.