The US wants Japan to continue its refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of Washington's ongoing anti-terrorism operations in and around Afghanistan, Pentagon said.
"We, as an old ally of Japan, believe their contribution to the war on terror, to the world's efforts in Afghanistan, is vitally important, and we would like to see them continue it (refueling mission)," Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell has said.
The call came despite Japan's presumptive prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, suggesting last week there is no change in his policy to terminate the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean, in place since 2001.
"Obviously there are domestic political considerations for the Japanese government," Morrell said.
"They will have to deal with those. I'm just telling you with disregard for whatever those political considerations are, we in this building very much value their contribution," the spokesperson said.
"I haven't had the conversation with the Secretary (of Defense Robert Gates) of 'Geoff, please ask the Japanese to continue this mission,'" he said. "That is not what I am saying."
The refueling mission was briefly halted in November 2007 after a temporary law authorising it expired. The operations resumed after a new law was enacted in January 2008 and were extended to January 2010 after an amendment last December.