Japan Withdraws Troops from Iraq
20 June 2006
Japan will soon withdraw its ground troops from Iraq, saying its humanitarian mission there has been successful.
Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced the withdrawal of the country's troops from the southern Iraqi city of Samawah on Tuesday.
Mr. Koizumi says the government has decided to withdraw Ground Self Defense Forces troops from Samawah because the troops have achieved their humanitarian and reconstruction goals there.
Mr. Koizumi said the 600 troops, who were sent to Iraq in early 2004, have helped rebuild the infrastructure around Samawah.
The deployment to Iraq was Japan's first military mission to a country at war since the Second World War. The move won Mr. Koizumi praise from Washington but was opposed by a majority of Japanese. Many people said it contradicts the country's pacifist constitution.
Japan's post-war constitution bans its troops from using force except in self-defense.
In Iraq, the Japanese troops relied on British and Australian troops in the area for protection. The Japanese contingent suffered no casualties.
Mr. Koizumi said the decision to withdraw the troops came after Iraq's new government announced on Monday that its forces would take over security in the area. British troops currently oversee a multinational contingent providing security in that region.
The withdrawal of the Japanese troops is expected to be completed by the end of next month.
However, Japanese officials say an Air Self Defense Force operation in Iraq is likely to continue. The air operation ferries supplies and personnel into Iraq to help the government and the U.S.-led coalition.
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