The government has decided to send a Self-Defense Forces contingent to Iraq without first sending a research team to study local conditions, a government official said Monday.
The decision not to follow the SDF practice of having research teams prepare for missions was made due to a lack of time, the official said. Tokyo has separately decided to deploy 150 advance troops to Iraq in December, he added.
Tokyo is in the final stages of organizing the unit’s dispatch to Samawa, southern Iraq, an area considered relatively safe, following a recent mission by Foreign Ministry and Defense Agency officials.
The decision to scrap the research team’s mission also has political roots and was made despite requests for such a mission by the Defense Agency and the SDF.
Both the U.S. occupation forces and the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority are growing impatient with Japan’s research forays — there have been 10 — and lack of any real action, the official said.
Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba has said there is a need for SDF officers to examine local conditions and determine what equipment will be needed.
The government official who Monday morning confirmed the cancellation suggested that such a study would be conducted by the advance unit.
Under its war-renouncing Constitution, Japan has sent the SDF abroad only to take part in U.N. peacekeeping operations in postconflict areas and to provide sea-based logistics support to the U.S. antiterrorism campaign in Afghanistan.
In July, the government enacted a four-year law authorizing SDF troops to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance only in “noncombat” areas.
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