Japan’s rebirth an example, says Iraqi speaker

by Reiji Yoshida

Iraq can learn from Japan’s postwar reconstruction, Iraq’s speaker of the National Assembly told Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Tokyo on Friday.

Hajim al-Hasani’s meeting was part of the first foreign visit made by a delegation from the new Iraqi legislature.

“The purpose of our visit to Japan is, first of all, to show our appreciation and thanks to (the) Japanese people and the Japanese government,” the speaker told reporters after meeting Koizumi at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

During the meeting, the prime minister presented the delegation with a photo book telling the story of the American Occupation of Japan and encouraged the Iraqi people, who are also trying to recover from war, to rebuild their economy and establish democracy, according to participants.

“The prime minister said it took Japan 60 years to reach this situation,” al-Hasani said. “I hope it will take us much less than that.”

The speaker said Iraq appreciates the aid work being done by the Self-Defense Forces in Iraq, adding he hoped that they would stay “until they complete their mission,” regardless of the December finish that has been set by Tokyo.

The speaker, leading a group of 10 assembly members, arrived in Japan on Thursday to pay a courtesy call on Koizumi and attend a Japanese government-sponsored seminar to study the constitutions of various countries.

Al-Hasani admitted that terrorism is still playing “a big role in deteriorating the security situation in Iraq.”

But he added: “We’re rebuilding our forces with the help and support of our friends. We will overcome terrorism in Iraq.”

The visitors, following Koizumi’s example, did not wear ties to their meeting with the prime minister to show their support for the “Cool Biz” campaign aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions through the reduction of air conditioning.

“We’re not wearing neckties in solidarity with Japanese people,” the speaker told reporters.