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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s top diplomatic adviser, Yukio Okamoto, left Narita airport Wednesday for Iraq to lay the groundwork for a dispatch of Japanese ground troops to the country.

Okamoto is scheduled to inspect local hospitals and schools, and meet with officials from the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority now in control of Iraq, government officials said.

Okamoto will get together with officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and study ways to assist Iraqi industries, they said.

A Japanese government mission has been in Iraq since last month to obtain information on the security and political situations in Iraq ahead of the expected dispatch of Self-Defense Forces troops to the country.

Japan passed special legislation in July allowing SDF troops to be sent to noncombat zones in Iraq to assist in reconstruction of the nation.

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