Bringing down the curtain: Capt. Ryo Sakai (right) announces the end of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission Friday aboard the supply ship Mashu in the Indian Ocean. KYODO PHOTO
U.S. calmly accepts end of MSDF refueling tour
WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The United States reacted calmly Friday to the termination of Japan's eight-year refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of U.S.-led anti terrorism operations in and around Afghanistan.
"This was a decision that Japan made," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters when asked about the mission's halt earlier in the day.
He also said Japan "continues to make important contributions to the mission in Afghanistan," referring to Tokyo's new policy of offering civilian aid to the conflict-ravaged country.
Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels will leave the waters following an order issued by Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa to terminate the operations at midnight Friday. The activities had continued for most of the period since December 2001 in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that year in the United States.
Japan had provided about 510,000 kiloliters of oil to vessels from 12 countries, including Britain, France, Pakistan and the United States, in 938 operations as of Dec. 31, according to a Defense Ministry tally.
The cost of fuel provided to foreign vessels during the mission since fiscal 2001 totaled ¥24.4 billion and expenses for the entire refueling mission amounted to ¥71.5 billion, according to the ministry.
Tokyo also provided around 1,200 kiloliters of fuel for helicopters on foreign ships taking part in antiterrorism activities in 85 operations and supplied foreign vessels with about 11,000 tons of water on 194 occasions. In total, around 13,300 MSDF members took part in the mission, the ministry said.
U.S. and Pakistani vessels were the major recipients of the fuel provided by the MSDF, the tally showed.
Courtesy : The Japan Times