( dpa ) - The Japanese defence minister on Thursday ordered the nation's military to send refueling ships to support US-led occupation forces in Afghanistan, news reports said.
Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba ordered Maritime Self-Defence (MSDF) vessels to the Indian Ocean, where they will provide fuel to allied warships operating in and around Afghanistan.
MSDF will send some 500 members on the 13,500-ton ship Oumi and the 4,550-ton destroyer Murasame as the initial deployment leaving as early as January 24, Kyodo News Agency said.
Japan's refueling mission was suspended in November as a special law allowing the deployment expired and the government failed to extend it in time due to lack of support from opposition parties.
But the government won parliamentary approval last Friday for a new bill to resume the refueling mission for another year.