15 September 2017

News Story: Japan refuels US missile defense ships under new security laws

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Maritime Self-Defense Force has refueled U.S. ships patrolling to counter North Korean missile launches under new security laws that took effect last year, a Japanese government source said Thursday.

The refueling missions to U.S. Aegis ships sailing in the Sea of Japan were conducted multiple times since April, making them the second instance in which Japanese Self-Defense Forces were known to have performed their expanded roles under the security legislation.

The legislation has loosened the constraints of Japan's war-renouncing postwar Constitution imposed on the activities of the defense forces, setting the stage for U.S. and Japanese troops to work more closely than ever.

Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the SDF personnel are engaging in activities to provide supplies to the U.S. military based on the legislation, but refrained from acknowledging specific operations.

"I cannot comment on the issue because it will unveil the details of the operations of the SDF and the U.S. military," the chief Cabinet secretary said at a regular press conference.

In May, the MSDF engaged in a mission to protect a U.S. Navy vessel off Japan for the first time under the legislation, although Tokyo has also not officially confirmed that operation to avoid impacting U.S. military activities and bilateral relations.

Read the full story at The Mainichi