International operations will become the 'primary duty' of Japan's military under recommendations expected to be adopted by the government. The report, due to be submitted to cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukuda this month, plots a dramatic departure for Japan's military, from a role of being solely responsible for the country's internal security to one where international operations are commonplace. The controversial recommendations have been compiled by a panel under the guidance of one of the country's most prominent diplomats, former UN undersecretary-general Yasushi Akashi. It will be almost impossible for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's government, with clear nationalist leanings and scared of losing ground to the far right, to ignore the report. The panel also seeks a greater regional and global role for the police in operations overseas. The panel's report is the latest sign that the United States' war on terror has proved convenient to those in Japan who seek a greater role for the country's military. As much was admitted yesterday when a senior legislator said the controversial despatch of a Japanese warship equipped with an Aegis missile-detection system to the Indian Ocean was not unrelated to a visit by US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage yesterday. Taku Yamasaki, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said Mr Armitage's visit and the bilateral security talks scheduled later this month in Washington were factors in a decision that seemed at odds with Japan's pacifist constitution. Tokyo also said yesterday it was looking at sending C-130 transport planes to evacuate Japanese citizens in case of a US attack on Iraq. Such a move would represent the first time that Japanese troops have been sent into an active combat zone since 1945. Japan is considering passing a law to allow it to deploy troops in Iraq if President Saddam Hussein is removed through a war with the US and its allies. Mr Koizumi's staff had been drawing up the emergency legislation, one source said, because 'Japan has to be involved in the rule and rehabilitation of Iraq after the Saddam administration to stabilise crude oil imports from the Middle East to Japan'. These developments point to Japan flexing its military muscle in a way that was unimaginable just a few years ago, placing strains on its pacifist constitution.