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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:54 03/09/2007
News Review #325: December 8, 2005

Japan Govt Plans to Extend Iraq Deployment for 1 Year

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

Japan Govt Plans to Extend Iraq Deployment for 1 Year

Related Article:
Japan to Withdraw Troops from Iraq - The U.S. "coalition of the willing" in Iraq is continuing to shrink


Two confusing, if not contradicting, articles have come out. One says Japan extends its Self Defence Force (SDF) stay in Iraq for another year in an ongoing support for the multilateral effort lead by the U.S. to assist Iraq get back on its feet. And another says Japan decides to withdraw the SDF from Iraq despite the strong pressure by the U.S., as another blow to the current U.S. policy.

As it is often the case, the reality is in between the two, but it seems the former view, that Japan decides to stay is probably a better description than the latter.

Japan extends the term for its SDF to operate in Iraq for another year, which was to expire next week according to current procedural framework. But there will be a provision that the status would be monitored and the SDF could be called back any time depending on the situation there. The factors for the decision of retrieval include the behaviors of other countries' troops necessary to guard the operations of the SDF, which has no legal power to engage in combat.

Japanese people would be delighted to see the SDF return from Iraq. But the reason for it has shifted from when, in late 2003 for the first time the SDF was dispatched there, people were concerned about the presence of the SDF in a troubled area. After two years of experience, people began to better understand the function of the SDF, with a dramatic decrease in the number of those flatly denying the dispatch. Japanese people would be glad to see the SDF return, now because it would be a sign for peace to return to the region, and Japan could assist the people in a more productive manner.

That said, the humanitarian and reconstruction assistance provided by the SDF has already brought real results. For example, water supply and purification facilities have been built and handed over to the Iraqis to operate. And other public facilities are being built under the lead and guidance of the SDF. In fact, the SDF employs more than one-thousand Iraqis daily. It is certainly better, and prudent, to see to it that there would be other job opportunities for the local people by the time SDF leaves.

Japan has started providing 1.5 billion dollars in grant aid to Iraq, and began negotiating with the Iraqi government regarding ODA loans totaling 3.5 billion dollars. As such, Japan may have played only a marginal role in the peacekeeping operations in the narrow sense of the term, but it is beginning to prepare itself in doing what Japan does best, providing aid and assistance for building and reconstructing, to the people of peace-loving, democratic, and willing society.

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