Al Jazeera and Sources – 2008-11-29 21:34:24
Japan to End Air Mission in Iraq
Al Jazeera and Sources
(November 29, 2008) — Japan has announced that it will end its air support for US-led coalition forces in Iraq by the end of the year because the mission had achieved its goal.
Taro Aso, the prime minister, said the national security council issued the order, which was anticipated for months, because there was progress in Iraq’s security situation and its move towards democracy.
“Iraq has demonstrated a steady effort to install a democratic government and the country’s security has improved while the Iraqi people are now making their own effort to rebuild their country,” he said in a statement.
Japan has airlifted equipment and troops since 2006 from Kuwait to Iraq, including Baghdad, in support of the US-led forces.
Aso said that Japan will continue economic aid and technology support to Iraq.
The UN Security Council resolution authorising the presence of US troops in Iraq expires later this year.
Iraq is also reviewing the activities of multinational forces in the country.
Japan is now debating whether to continue its anti-terrorism maritime mission in the Indian Ocean, which also expires in December.
The refuelling mission began in 2001 to support US-led forces in Afghanistan but Japan had to suspend it late last year after the political opposition blocked its extension in parliament.
The Iraq and Afghan missions have tested the limits of Japan’s pacifist constitution and divided public opinion. Critics oppose them as a violation of the nation’s charter written in 1947 by the US, which bans Japan from engaging in warfare.
Japan to End Iraq Deployment
TOKYO (September 11, 2008) — Japan says it is planning to withdraw the last of its troops deployed in Iraq by the end of the year.
The recall would affect about 210 Japanese air force personnel who have been used to transport supplies and staff for US-led forces and the United Nations.
Masahiko Komura, Japan’s foreign minister, said the personnel and Japanese aircraft which have been stationed in Kuwait would return to Japan by the end of the year.
Speaking to reporters in Tokyo on Thursday he said the purpose of the mission had been achieved and attention was now turning to the conflict in Afghanistan.
“After continued consultations with Iraq, we have come to believe that the situation in Iraq has gradually improved and that we are gradually achieving the purpose,” he said.
“The Iraqi side is reaching out to countries concerned to co-ordinate what it wants to ask of multinational forces from the next year,” he added. “I believe Iraq is showing its understanding for Japan’s thinking.”
The mission was the last Japanese military operation in Iraq after Japan, which has been officially pacifist since the end of the Second World War, pulled out its ground troops in 2006.
The deployment was the first by the Japanese military to a combat zone since 1945.
Komura said the government would continue with another controversial mission in the Indian Ocean, in which Japanese naval forces provide fuel for US-led forces in Afghanistan.
The deployments in the Indian Ocean and Iraq have been heavily criticised by Japanese opposition politicians who argue that Japan should not be part of “American wars”.
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