Japan mulls Iraq troop withdrawal info
TOKYO, Nov 7 (AFP) - Japan is considering pulling its troops out of Iraq in
the first half of next year and expanding Iraq-related air missions from
Kuwait, a news report said Monday.
A 200-member Air Self-Defense Force transport unit has been flying C-130
planes between Kuwait and southern Iraq to support US missions there, the
Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said.
The government is considering whether to expand its mission to include
flights between Kuwait and Qatar, where the US Central Command is stationed,
the Yomiuri said citing informed sources.
The US has asked Japan to fly transport aircraft from Kuwait to other
destinations in Iraq, including Baghdad, after the Japanese ground troops
pull out, the Yomiuri said.
In response to the US request, the Japanese government has chosen missions
that would pose less danger to the air unit, the Yomiuri said.
Japan has not officially decided when to pull out its ground troops.
Japan, a close ally of the United States, has some 600 ground troops on a
humanitarian mission in Samawa in southern Iraq, considered a relatively
safe area. The current mission expires in December but Iraq wants an
It is Japan's first deployment to a country where fighting is ongoing since
its World War II defeat. To avoid violating Japan's pacifist constitution,
the government says the troops operate in a "non-combat zone" within Iraq.
The troops have relied on Australia and other countries for their security.