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1,000 Japanese Self-Defense Forces to Iraq

Posted June. 18, 2003 21:52,   


Japanese press such as the Mainichi Newspaper reported on June 18 that the Japanese Defense Office is in the process of establishing a detailed plan primarily focused on the dispatch of 1,000 SDF troops to Iraq.

Within the Defense Office, there have been strong voices regarding the number to be sent out that this number must be greater than the number of Korean soldiers (680) who are already on active duty in Iraq, thus 1,000 troops being sent is very probable.

Japan`s SDF has participated in UN Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor and similar places but this will be the first time that they will be sent overseas to directly support the activities of the multi-national peacekeeping force.

The scale is expected to be the largest in Japan`s history, passing the number of 680 soldiers sent to East Timor in March 2002. It was reported that the United States has requested military assistance from Japan through unofficial channels.

Among the number to be sent, around 500 of SDF ground troops will most likely be in charge of establishing and managing a base which will supply fuel to the multi-national peacekeeping force, mainly U.S. and U.K. forces already there.

Originally, such plan of supporting the activities to maintain security for U.S. soldiers has been examined but due to concern of casualties, their duties have been reduced. Japan already has supplied fuel in the Indian Sea during the United States` attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq.

SDF Marines are examining the sending of a transportation ship and torpedo destroyer, which will be used to transport ground troops and supplies.

Moreover, the SDF Air Force is considering sending two or three C-130 transport planes to fly within Iraq and between Iraq and neighboring countries to carry out the duties of transporting food and water.

The three ministerial parties including the Liberal Democratic Party are planning to institute special resolutions for the dispatch of troops to Iraq by expanding its Diet session to the end of July. However, the parties out of power such as the Democratic Party are clearly showing their opposition to the resolution. “There is no appropriate reason for sending troops to Iraq and moreover, it is not absolutely necessary,” they said.

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com