Members of GSDF contingent return


The last 140 members of the first Ground Self-Defense Force contingent to Iraq returned to Japan on Monday, concluding a three-month tour of duty.

GSDF Col. Koichiro Bansho, who headed up the first contingent, and the remaining members of his command arrived at Asahikawa airport in Hokkaido, having traveled from Kuwait aboard a government airplane.

The first unit, mainly from the Northern Army’s 2nd Division based in Asahikawa, will officially wrap up its mission with the return of the contingent flag to the Defense Agency in a ceremony June 6.

A replacement contingent led by Col. Yuki Imaura has arrived in Samawah, southern Iraq, and will stay there until August.

Since February, the first unit was chiefly engaged in building the GSDF camp in Samawah, purifying water and supporting local medical services.

Troops were generally restricted to activities within the camp due to security concerns.