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Japan to Withdraw 550 Troops from Iraq

Associated Press | May 4, 2005

Japan will withdraw its 550 soldiers from their non-combat mission in Iraq in December, according to a media report Wednesday.

Tokyo will notify other countries participating in the peacekeeping mission in Iraq as early as September and then shift its contribution to financial assistance, Kyodo News agency said, quoting sources it did not identify.

Several American allies — including Ukraine, the Netherlands and Spain — have started pulling their troops from Iraq, and Poland has said it will withdraw its soldiers by year's end unless the U.N. Security Council renewed their mandate.

Japanese Defense Agency and Foreign Ministry officials were not available for comment Wednesday, when government offices were closed for a national holiday.

Japan has dispatched troops to southern Iraq for non-combat missions since early 2004, and about 550 Japanese soldiers are currently based in Samawah purifying water, rebuilding infrastructure and offering medical aid. The mission, combined with air and naval troops backing up the dispatch, is Japan's largest overseas military deployment since World War II.

In December, Japan extended the troops' mission for another year.


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