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Japan's Leader Plans to Send Troops to Iraq

June 08, 2003|From Associated Press

TOKYO — Japan's ruling coalition will draft legislation allowing the government to send troops to Iraq to help rebuild the country, Japanese media reported Saturday.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met senior leaders of the three ruling parties Saturday afternoon and ordered them to prepare the bill, public television NHK and other media reported.

"It is the international community's request that Iraq be rebuilt, its citizens protected and humanitarian assistance provided," NHK quoted Koizumi as saying. "To contribute in a manner commensurate with the strength and condition of Japan, I'd like to dispatch the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq."

The proposed law, which would expire in four years, would enable Tokyo to send its military to noncombat areas of Iraq, where they would back up U.S. peacekeeping forces and offer humanitarian assistance, the reports said.

Koizumi firmly backed the U.S.-led war in Iraq but limited his support to verbal statements and $100 million in financial aid.

Japan's pacifist constitution prohibits the use of force to solve disputes and restricts the military to a defensive role.

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