Japan will stop naval mission

TOKYO: Japan's Parliamentary Defence Secretary Akihisa Nagashima said he told the United States that Tokyo will halt a refuelling mission backing US forces in Afghanistan, Kyodo news agency reported Thursday.

Kyodo said that Nagashima, the third-ranking defence official, had said on Wednesday US time that he had notified the White House and Defence Department that Japan would stop the naval mission in the Indian Ocean in January.

Japan's new centre-left government, which took power last month and has vowed "more equal" ties with the United States, has previously said it would end the mission, but Nagashima said he had made the announcement formal.

The official, who met National Security Adviser James Jones and Undersecretary of Defence Michele Flournoy, said the US officials had said Washington views the issue as a matter to be decided by Japan, Kyodo said.