Japan hopes to end Iraq mission after Britain, Australia pull out

December 7th, 2005  
Team Infidel

Topic: Japan hopes to end Iraq mission after Britain, Australia pull out

TOKYO, Dec 7 (AFP) - Japan said Wednesday it hopes to end its historic
mission to Iraq after the withdrawal in mid-2006 by Britain and Australia,
which protect Japan's troops who are barred from combat.

The Japanese government presented its draft plan to extend the 600-troop
deployment to panels of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ahead of final
cabinet approval expected Thursday.

The draft plan said the mission, which is set to expire next Wednesday, will
be extended by another year but Japan hopes to withdraw before then and will
"carefully watch" moves by Britain and Australia.

The two countries have told Japan that they would likely withdraw from the
Japanese troops' area in May, Jiji Press said, quoting unnamed government

The reconstruction mission in the relatively stable southern city of Samawa
is Japan's first deployment since World War II to a country where fighting
is under way and is opposed by most of the public.

Japan is banned from maintaining a military under the US-imposed 1947
constitution, meaning the troops in Iraq, who have never fired their weapons
in anger, rely on other countries for their security.

But the United States may ask Japan to consider stationing its troops in
other locations in Iraq, Jiji Press reported.

US undersecretary of defense for policy Eric Edelman suggested the
possibility to Japan's main opposition leader Seiji Maehara, who is
currently visiting Washington, it said.

News reports said Japan is hoping to withdraw the troops before Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi leaves office in September following a five-year
tenure in which he has tried to bolster Tokyo's international profile.

Japan's defense chief Fukushiro Nukaga paid a flying visit to Samawa at the
weekend and told Koizumi that the conditions were "generally stable,"
recommending an extension of the troop mission.

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari who visited here earlier this week also
called on Japan to extend the mission.