The Defense Agency will monitor the development of the U.S.-Iraq showdown, but the Self-Defense Forces do not plan to take any action at the moment, Defense Agency Vice Minister Seiji Ema said Thursday.

“We are trying to get as much information as possible by closely communicating with other ministries and agencies,” he said in a regular meeting with the press.

He denied the possibility that the SDF will participate in any way in the military operation conducted by the United States and Britain, saying the agency has received no request for cooperation from U.S. forces.

Ema added, however, that the SDF might stage a rescue operation for Japanese nationals living in Iraq should it receive a request to do so from the government.

Some 4,000 U.S. servicemen stationed in Japan have left for the gulf region since last month.

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