Subject: KY: Horta supports Japan SDF peacekeepers

Timorese leader Ramos-Horta welcomes Japanese peace-keeping role BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 22, 2001

Source: Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 1348 gmt 22 Aug 01

Dili, East Timor, 22 August: Senior East Timorese political figure Jose Ramos-Horta said Wednesday [22 August] he would welcome participation of a Japanese Self-Defence Forces (SDF) logistical unit in a UN peace-keeping operation in the UN-administered territory after it gains full independence next year

Ramos-Horta, who is in charge of foreign policy in East Timor's transitional government, made the remarks in a meeting with Japanese journalists in Dili.

The Japanese government has already indicated that it is keen to dispatch SDF personnel to East Timor after its independence. But it was the first time for a major East Timorese figure to voice approval of the contemplated move.

Ramos-Horta's specific mention of a "logistical unit" appeared to show that the Japanese government has already brought the issue up with the East Timorese leadership behind the scenes.

The SDF is limited to non-combat duties due to legal restrictions and current interpretation of Japan's war-renouncing Constitution.

East Timor, which is scheduled to hold its first legislative elections for a constituent assembly 30 August, two years after its historic referendum on independence from Indonesia, is likely to gain full independence after April next year, Ramos-Horta said.

The United Nations plans to maintain peacekeeping troops in East Timor for two years after the island gains independence.

On 30 August 1999, an overwhelming majority of people in the former Portuguese colony, which was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and occupied for more than two decades, voted for independence in the UN-organized referendum.

After the results were announced, pro-Indonesia militias organized and supported by the Indonesian military went on a burning and looting and killing spree, prompting the international community to send an Australian-led multinational force.

Japan did not send SDF troops to participate in the force, but it earlier dispatched police officers for the independence referendum, and sent three Air Self-Defence Force (ASDF) planes to Indonesian West Timor in November 1999 to airlift food and medical supplies to East Timorese refugees stranded there.

Last Friday, Taku Yamasaki, secretary-general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), discussed the issue of Japan's plan to take part in UN peace-keeping operations in East Timor in a meeting with top Indonesian security minister [Coordinating Minister of Political Affairs and Security] Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta, and appeared to gain his approval.

Militia members in Indonesia's half of Timor Island pose the greatest threat to East Timor's security.

Ramos-Horta also said that East Timor, after gaining full independence, has no intention of making a diplomatic issue of the Japan's 1942-1945 occupation of the territory during World War II.

The 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner also said East Timor would support Japan in its quest to obtain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

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