The Corner

Japanese Aid to Afghanistan

Kathmandu, Nepal  The Japanese are pulling naval assets from the fight in Afghanistan, but they are adding assets in another category. I asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (who has not responded), Gen. David Petraeus, and Gen. (ret.) Barry McCaffrey to comment on this report:

Japan plans additional $5 billion for Afghanistan


TOKYO — Japan on Tuesday announced $5 billion in fresh aid to Afghanistan even as it plans to bring home refueling ships supporting U.S.-led forces there. The pledge comes just days before President Barack Obama arrives in Tokyo for talks that are sure to focus on the countries’ military alliance. 

The announcement appears to be a way for Japan, which is barred from sending troops for combat by its pacifist constitution, to show support for Afghanistan’s reconstruction while Obama reviews his options for a new strategy in the conflict.

General Petraeus responded: “It reflects a significant commitment, one that will provide important resources to Afghanistan during an important period.”

General McCaffrey responded:


The Japanese commitment of $5 billion in aid to Afghanistan coming just prior to President Obama’s visit to Tokyo is a welcome signal of financial support for Washington.

Our Allies in Afghanistan are headed for the door. The Canadians and Dutch have already said they will withdraw troops in the coming 24 months. The Germans are of dubious value with their constricting rules of engagement. Japan itself has announced it will end its Indian Ocean refueling mission. Only the courageous Brits are there in any strength with the will to fight.

The Japanese constitution and their political legacy from WWII make them literally worthless as a deployed ground combat military force. In Iraq they were incapable of even defending themselves with their modest troop commitment. Therefore, this significant financial support during a Japanese financial recession is a positive outreach for this critical ally.

I am very interested to hear the thoughts of Secretary Gates. The Japanese decision is significant and will affect the war. I suspect the Canadian decision is mostly (but not totally) “final.” Canadian soldiers earned a hard reputation the hard way. They get respect, but the Canadian government is not to be taken seriously. The Dutch need to stay in the fight. Their contribution is crucial. The Germans will get whipped to pieces, in my judgment, but the Dutch need to stay with the winning team — and they can. General McCaffrey wrote, “Only the courageous Brits are there in any strength with the will to fight.” Well, there are some others who will fight, but the Brits definitely get huge respect. The Aussies, in their tiny numbers, will fight. The Danes and the Dutch will fight, as will the Canadians if given the chance.

Japanese financial aid already has been very helpful to Afghanistan; I have seen its positive effects. The previous Japanese aid package that is nearly spent was worth $2 billion. (Japanese officials told me some months ago that they had spent $1.8 billion and had $200 million left in the fund.) The injection of another $5 billion in development money is a very good thing.

Michael Yon is an independent reporter whose work is reader-supported.

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