As noted last month, the government was investigating whether to ramp up Japan’s commitment to Afghanistan to include the deployment of Ground Self-Defense Forces personnel to Afghanistan.
Komeito, the LDP’s partner in government, may have killed the idea of a ground component. Ota Akihiro, Komeito secretary-general, said Saturday that there are few within the government and the LDP — and, by implication, the bulk of his party — who are enthusiastic about sending ground troops to Afghanistan. Komeito’s opposition is probably enough to ensure that the government will do nothing more than push for an extension of the refueling mission, which the DPJ will oppose, prompting the government to use Article 59 to pass the bill for the second straight year. Recall that the LDP has previously conceded to Komeito on this issue: the very fact that the government has to renew the mission again this year is the result of a concession to Komeito last year, shortly after Mr. Fukuda took the reins.
Given that Komeito’s thirty-one lower house members give the government its two-thirds majority, it’s safe to assume that the lowest common denominator will win the day on this issue, meaning a repeat of last year’s spectacle.