Japan on Nov. 10 announced USD 5 billion in fresh aid to Afghanistan even as it plans to bring home refueling ships supporting US-led forces there. The pledge comes just days before President Barack Obama arrives in Tokyo for talks that are sure to focus on the countries' military alliance. The announcement appears to be a way for Japan, which is barred from sending troops for combat by its pacifist constitution, to show support for Afghanistan's reconstruction while Obama reviews his options for a new strategy in the conflict. PM Yukio Hatoyama's government doesn't plan to extend Japan's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean when it ends in January, partly because it lacks a mandate from the UN. Some in Hatoyama's party also say the mission violates the country's constitution. Japanese officials said the aid shouldn't be seen as simple replacement for the refueling mission, but aimed at creating jobs and supporting its development. (AP)

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