From the Daily Yomiuri:
Iraq pullout announced / Koizumi cites new govt, regional security transfer as reasons
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced Tuesday that Ground Self-Defense Force troops dispatched to Iraq would withdraw from the nation, ending their mission to help reconstruction efforts there that started in January 2004.
The GSDF unit based in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah is to soon start withdrawing from Iraq to Kuwait, a process sources said would be completed by the end of July.
The personnel then will return home in August or later.
At a press conference, Koizumi said the decision on the withdrawal had been made after taking into account such factors as the launch of the new Iraqi government and the planned transfer of security duties from British-led coalition forces to the Iraqi authorities in Muthanna Province, in which Samawah is located.
"After consultations with the United States, as well as Britain and Australia, it has been judged that the GSDF's humanitarian aid and reconstruction activities produced results," he added.
He also issued a statement, saying, "The nation intends to have the results of the aid mission take root [in Iraq] and to establish long-term partnerships with Iraq in various areas."
Regarding Air Self-Defense Force personnel, who are engaged in transport services to Iraq, the statement said their duties would be expanded.
Earlier in the day, Koizumi held a meeting with New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki and told him that ASDF transport services would be expanded to those for U.N. employees. Koizumi also met with Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii and Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima to inform them of the pullout decision.
The Security Council of Japan, a key government national security issues panel, then met to formalize the decision. Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga then issued an order for the GSDF's 10th unit for the Iraqi mission based in Samawah to withdraw.
The Defense Agency is expected to dispatch an additional unit of 100 troops specializing in supply and transport services to help the withdrawal. The 10th unit, divided into three groups, is to gradually move to Kuwait over a period of about 30 to 35 days.
After conducting checks on vehicles as well as arms and ammunition, the personnel will be brought home either by ASDF carriers or on chartered airliners.
The ASDF personnel, who are based in Kuwait and engaged in transporting materials for the U.S.-led coalition occupation forces in Iraq, will continue their operations there.
Complying with a U.N. request, destinations for ASDF transport services, which are currently limited to Basra and Tallil in southern Iraq, will be expanded to include Baghdad and Irbil.
(Jun. 21, 2006)
Personally, I am against the deployment of Japanese Self Defense Forces to Iraq, and Japan's involvement in this crazy war of Bush. Even when this is not in response to public clamor for the withdrawal of Japanese troops from Iraq, at least, they are coming home at last.
Prime Minister Koizumi cannot leave the Japanese troops there hanging upon his departure from office and the next Premier not being as enthusiastic to put Japan in danger by defying the provision of the pacifist Japanese Constitution limiting Japan's defense capability to protection and defense of Japan from attack from the outside that is inevitable with US military build-up in Japan.
The North Korean missile threat is a blessing in disguise as a matter of fact.