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1/25/04 - JAPAN DEPLOYMENT TO IRAQ - 2004-01-26


Japanese Self-Defense Forces are now arriving in Iraq to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. It is the first deployment of Japan's military to an area of armed conflict since the Second Word War. Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, said the deployment is necessary because "peace cannot be achieved only with words."

Japan's Defense Agency plans to deploy about six-hundred ground troops by late March, supported by four-hundred air force and naval personnel. Their mission is to provide drinking water and rebuild schools in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah. Japanese troops and civilian officials will complement Japan's one-billion five-hundred-million dollar pledge of near-term reconstruction assistance for Iraq.

The Japanese troops are working in cooperation with some one-hundred-fifty-five thousand Coalition troops from thirty-five nations now serving in Iraq. Some critics of America's role in Iraq do not seem to be aware of the diversity of the Coalition force. President George W. Bush has this response:

"This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and the seventeen other countries that have committed troops to Iraq. . . . We must never ignore the vital contributions of our international partners, or dismiss their sacrifices."

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi told Japan's parliament that if Iraq should become a "failed state," as well as a base for terrorist activities like Afghanistan in the past, it would be a threat to the rest of the world.

For the people of Samawah, the arrival of Japanese troops is good news. Anmar Khudir, a local goldsmith, said, "they are going to improve the town one-hundred percent. We will have clean water to drink, electricity, maybe even less crime." Karim Mohammed Ali, the manager of a local mosque, said the Japanese troops "are here to build, not destroy."

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