A Japanese upper house committee on Tuesday approved a one-year extension of the country's naval mission to support U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, paving the way for it to be endorsed by the full house. Japan's navy has provided fuel for coalition warships in the Indian Ocean since November 2001 under a special law that was set to expire on Nov. 1.
It already had been extended in 2003 for two years. The more powerful lower house approved the extension last week, and a full upper house vote is scheduled for Wednesday, said Shun Makishi, a house official.
As part of its contribution to the war on terror, Japan also has stationed 600 troops in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah on a non-combat, humanitarian mission under a special law passed in 2003.
Japan's Iraq mission expires on Dec. 14, but Tokyo hasn't decided whether to extend it. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has suggested Japan's efforts in Iraq aren't finished, the AP reports.
Japan's constitution bans the use of force in settling international disputes, and the overseas missions are unpopular with the public.
Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18