US defense chief in Japan amid debate over Afghan mission

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Japan Wednesday, where he was expected to urge the government to resume an Indian Ocean naval refueling mission in support of US-led coalition operations in Afghanistan. Japan, Washington's top ally in Asia, withdrew its Indian Ocean contingent after the government failed to reach a compromise with the main opposition party, which is against the mission. Gates was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and other top government officials during his three-day Tokyo visit, Japan's Foreign Ministry said. Japan's military has refueled coalition warships in the Indian Ocean since 2001, and sent ground troops to Iraq in 2004-06.