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In May, after the U.S.-led coalition liberated the Iraqi people from the Saddam Hussein tyranny, the United Nations lifted sanctions against Iraq. Adopted unanimously, U-N Security Council Resolution 1483 also made an appeal to countries around the world to help contribute to conditions of stability and security in Iraq.

One country responding to that appeal is Japan. Japan has already pledged eighty-six million dollars toward Iraq's reconstruction, as well as over two-hundred million dollars in assistance to Iraq’s neighbors. And now the Japanese parliament has passed legislation that would permit Japanese Self-Defense Forces to operate in Iraq and provide on-the-ground humanitarian assistance and help the coalition’s stabilization efforts.

Japan is still determining exactly what missions the Self-Defense Forces might play in Iraq. But the deployment could be the largest such contribution of troops outside Japan since the Second World War. In recent years, Japan sent small units of peace-keeping troops to Cambodia and East Timor. And when a U.S.-led coalition waged war on the Taleban and al-Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan in response to the September 11th, 2001, attacks, Japan sent a variety of naval assets to the Indian Ocean to provide valuable logistical support, notably refueling services. This support continues and remains crucial to coalition activities. U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher praised the Japanese decision:

“We welcome any contribution that Japan can make to the reconstruction in Iraq. We certainly welcome the financial assistance, the humanitarian assistance, reconstruction assistance, and military assistance for the stabilization in Iraq. We recognize what an important issue this is and how it's an important development for Japan. And we think that Japan's ability to play this positive role in Iraq is a reflection of the kind of role it can play in world affairs.”

Japan is one of thirty countries working with the U.S. to bring security to Iraq. As Mr. Boucher said, “the effort being made for stabilization in Iraq is clearly international.” The U.S. wants the assistance of as many nations as possible to help the Iraqi people create the conditions for a stable, prosperous, and democratic country.