Saturday, September 22, 2007

Peace Depot Uses USNS Logs and Other Evidence to Assert JMSDF Fuel Oil Was Used In the Iraq War

The Peace Resource Cooperative, or Peace Depot for short, mainly using the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to access ship logs and other U.S. Naval Service documents as well as a GAO report, has made a strong case that the 786 thousand gallons (not 200 thousand gallons, as previously claimed by the Japanese government) of diesel oil that the Fleet Replenishment Oiler USNS Pecos received in 2003 from the JMSDF oiler Tokiwa had been used to refuel the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, which went on to participate in Operation Southern Watch (OSW) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) (not Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), as previously claimed by the Japanese government). OSW maintained the Southern no-fly zone in the period between the Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm; 1991) and the Iraq War (OIF; 2003- ). OIF was launched very soon after the Kitty Hawk arrived in the Persian Gulf.

Do you remember this and this? At the time, Nobuteru Ishihara as much as admitted that the US Naval ships in question were patrolling Iraqi waters, but claimed that they were watching for possible terrorist shipments and movements. After all, the Persian Gulf was part of the counter-terrorism act mandate. In the meantime, the offending US Centcom web pages had been taken down. However, Peace Depot kept digging until they came up with the evidence, put them together, and released its conclusions, together with copies of the relevant documents.

According to Asahi, the Director of the International Cooperation Division of the Ministry of Defense has admitted to an accounting error. He also backtracked a bit on the use of the diesel fuel, saying, "It is not that we are aware of all about everything". The article also depicts an unnamed LDP Defense zoku Diet member and anonymous MOD sources voicing suspicions of such use. Ironically, the article quotes then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda claiming that it would be impossible to use the fuel on iraq-related matters. Mainichi has more details on the official MOD explanation, but does not cover the reaction.

The DPJ will make good use of this information when the coalition government submits a new counter-terrorism bill as expected. I'm not quite ready to say that the extension is now in serious danger, but there is no doubt that this is a big problem for the (presumptive) Fukuda administration. The only excuse I can think of is, they must have been keeping watch on Al Qaida in Iraq…

Funny, where did I hear that story before?

It's too bad that the Peace Depot press release itself is available only in Japanese. But most of the documents are in English.

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