Japan to halt refuelling mission in Indian Ocean
Japanese Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa issued an order Friday to end Japan's refuelling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of US-led anti-terrorism operations in and around Afghanistan.
Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force is to end the operations to refuel US, Pakistani and other foreign vessels as a law authorizing it expires at midnight. The operations have continued for most of the period since December 2001, dpa reported.
Critics said the refuelling mission betrayed the nation's pacifist constitution.
The Democratic Party of Japan-led government instead pledged 5 billion dollars in aid to Afghanistan in November.
The new aid is likely to be spent on medical and agricultural support, job training for former Taliban fighters, salaries for local police officers and the development of infrastructure.
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Japan would not dispatch any troops under the new programme.