A reported U.S. request for Self-Defense Forces units to help with reconstruction efforts in an Iraq hot spot is causing a flap in Japan.
“The security situation in Balad is not good. Under the current circumstances, it would be difficult” for Japan to dispatch SDF troops there, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Thursday.
U.S. sources said Washington has asked that SDF personnel be sent to Balad, about 100 km north of Baghdad, and help provide clean water to U.S. soldiers.
But Fukuda said he has yet to be officially informed of the U.S. request.
Balad is in what the U.S. regards as a “very tough area.” U.S. forces have faced repeated attacks by insurgents.
The government plans to dispatch SDF personnel to Iraq to assist in rebuilding work, pending Diet approval expected next week.
But Tokyo has not decided where the troops would be sent.
The security issue on the ground in Iraq is a huge concern in Japan, especially because use of weapons by SDF troops overseas is strictly limited under the war-renouncing Constitution.
Japan believes sporadic hostilities will continue in some areas of the war-torn nation, Fukuda said.
In Washington on Wednesday, U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid said an organized guerrilla campaign is under way in Iraq, underscoring the shaky security situation.
Abizaid recently took over as leader of the U.S. Central Command, replacing Tommy Franks.