For the first time since World War Two, Japan is sending warships to support military action by another country.
The government in Tokyo voted Thursday to dispatch three naval vessels to the Indian Ocean, on a fact-finding mission in support of the U-S-led war on terrorism. The two destroyers and one supply ship will leave for the region Friday morning, and will gather information to help Japan's military find ways of assisting U-S-led forces in Afghanistan.
Last week, Japan's parliament approved a controversial new law enabling the Japanese military to provide non-combat assistance to the war on terrorism. The nation's pacifist constitution forbids the government from ordering troops into overseas combat.
In Berlin Thursday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder urged parliament to approve his plan to send almost four thousand troops to assist in the war on terrorism. He said Germany must take on greater responsibility in the world and prove it is a good NATO partner.
Mr. Schroeder assured lawmakers that German forces will not take part in air strikes on Afghanistan, and that he will not send ground troops there. Parliament is to vote on the plan next week.
Germany sent troops into overseas military action for the first time since World War Two during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. But those were air strikes, not ground actions.