A bill has just been passed in the Diet that allows the Japanese government to support Iraq's reconstruction effort for two more years. Given this legislation, Japan's Air Self-Defense Force is expected to continue its current mission in Iraq at least for another year beginning this August. In fact, it is widely believed that the government cannot withdraw the air force from Iraq until President Bush steps down late next year. This is because Japan's "military" presence seems to have become a symbol of the country's support for US foreign policy in the Middle East - a legacy of the Bush-Koizumi alliance that Prime Minister Abe has to honor so long as one of them remains in office for the sake of Japan's national security. Actually, what former Prime Minister Koizumi had in mind when he sent Japanese troops to Iraq a few years ago was North Korea, and this frame of mind does not seem to have changed at all under the Abe administration. However, the reality surrounding Iraq and North Korea, as well as the US for that matter, has changed rather fundamentally over the last couple of years. Needless to say, many observers agree that the situation in Iraq seems to be out of control and, as a result, President Bush has become politically isolated at home and abroad. More importantly from Japan's standpoint, the US has been making a series of concessions to North Korea, while leaving Japan uninformed of their "secret" deals under the table these days. Prime Minister Abe might say that there would be no other choice for Japan but to support US efforts in Middle East and elsewhere, even if the Iraq and North Korea situations have turned for the worse. That may be true, but the Japanese public should have been more fully informed of the situation surrounding the Self-Defense Force activities in Iraq and given a chance to express their opinions, before the key decision on this important matter was made by the ruling parties in the Diet.