The ruling bloc and the opposition parties are presenting completely conflicting reports on their respective fact-finding missions to Iraq, with the opposition arguing the Self-Defense Forces should not be dispatched to the area due to deteriorating security.
The opposition also said rebuilding work could be done by civilians.
During Tuesday’s Diet deliberations on a government-proposed bill to allow SDF teams to be dispatched to Iraq, the ruling coalition, Democratic Party of Japan, Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party each presented reports on separate missions to Iraq.
Seiken Sugiura of the Liberal Democratic Party, who headed the coalition team, said the security situation is improving day by day, and that security in Baghdad has reached a level on par with “any other big city.”
The report was delivered the same day two more attacks against Americans were reported in Iraq.
“All the people we met said there is no combat zone in Iraq,” Sugiura said, adding that shootings by Iraqis toward U.S. troops are “unorganized and isolated cases.”
However, the leader of the DPJ mission, Yoshinori Suematsu, presented a different picture, saying many Iraqis see the U.S. forces as their enemy, and some remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party are even calling for a rebellion against the occupation forces.
“The security situation is far from stable,” said Suematsu, a former career diplomat versed in Iraq affairs.
The opposition parties argue that SDF personnel should not be sent because Iraq is unsafe and they could end up in a situation where they would have to use their weapons, in violation of the war-renouncing Constitution.
Yasuo Ogata, who headed the JCP’s team, argued that uniformed SDF personnel could become targets for resentful Iraqis, while civilians would not.
“If the SDF works together with the coalition forces by providing logistic support, we don’t know what might happen,” he said.
However, Sugiura countered that sending the SDF is necessary because they are armed and can protect themselves, and would be self-sufficient in their daily necessities such as power and food.
Specifically, Sugiura said the SDF will be useful for providing clean water for coalition troops stationed at Baghdad International Airport.
“The place is heavily guarded by U.S. troops, it’s safe, and not even a cat can get in,” he claimed.
Suematsu, on the other hand, said water purification can be done by nongovernmental organizations. Other work that has been suggested for the SDF, such as rebuilding infrastructure, should also be done by NGOs through hiring unemployed Iraqis, he said.
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