Three Japanese war ships are heading for the Indian Ocean to join the U-S led anti-terror campaign -- the first time Japan has participated in an international military action since the second World War.
Two destroyers - Kurama and Kirisame - and a supply ship (Haman) left the southwestern port of Sasebo today (Friday) under a new law that allows the Japanese military to participate in a back-up role in the war against terrorists.
The Japanese vessels will mostly be limited to intelligence gathering.
Japan's parliament approved the new controversial law last week enabling the country's military to provide non-combat assistance to the war on terrorism. The nation's pacifist constitution, drafted at the end of World War Two, forbids the government from ordering troops into overseas combat.
Meanwhile, in Berlin, 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.