As expected, Japan will stop refueling coalition ships in the Indian Ocean later this week, a defense official said (see the link above). Japan's naval mission in support of US-led forces in Afghanistan has been continuing since 2001, and its extension beyond the current deadline is strongly urged by the U.S. and other coalition forces. Since the close relationship with the U.S. is regarded as the most important pillar of Japan's foreign policy, this development is clearly a policy failure on the part of Prime Minister Fukuda and the ruling LDP-Komeito coalition. It seems that the Fukuda administration and the LDP are now blaming the opposition party led by Mr. Ichiro Ozawa, who has so far refused to compromise on this issue. However, blaming the opposition for the policy failure is not a good excuse, even though the opposition parties as a whole now dominate the Upper House. This is because the LDP-Komeito coalition could have overruled the opposition parties' negative decision in the Upper House by mobilizing their two-thirds majority votes in the Lower House. The LDP has failed to do so, not because of any opposition from outside, but because of its internal conflicts and struggles in the aftermath of former Prime Minister Abe's abrupt resignation. It is needless to say from the external viewpoint, that Japan should pass new legislation to return to its mission in the Middle East as soon as possible on the bipartisan basis. But internally, this serious policy failure should not be overlooked, and Japanese voters must express their opinions on this point in the next general elections, which will take place sooner or later.