Japan plans to withdraw troops from Iraq in December
TOKYO: Japan plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq in December when the current mission is set to expire, according to a Japanese media report Wednesday.
Tokyo plans to notify a decision to other countries participating in the peacekeeping mission in Iraq as early as September and shift its contribution to financial assistance, Kyodo News agency said, quoting unidentified sources.
Several American allies _ including Ukraine, the Netherlands and Spain _ began pulling their troops from Iraq, and Poland has announced it would withdraw its soldiers at the end of the year unless the UN Security Council renewed the UN mandate.
Japan plans to follow suit after studying the possibility further before making the final decision, Kyodo said. Defense Agency and Foreign Ministry officials were not available for comment Wednesday, when government offices were closed for a national holiday.
Japan has dispatched troops to southern Iraq for non-combat missions since early 2004, and about 550 Japanese soldiers are currently based in Samawah, purifying water, rebuilding infrastructure and offering medical aid. The mission, combined with air and naval troops backing up the dispatch, is Japan’s largest overseas military deployment since World War II. In December, Japan extended the troops’ mission for another 12 months. ap