• Staff report


The next of kin of any Self-Defense Force member who dies in the line of duty in Iraq will receive up to 100 million yen in condolence money, a senior Defense Agency official said Tuesday.

The precise figure will depend on rank.

“In light of expected difficulty in performing duties under dangerous situations,” the agency will pay up to 90 million yen, the official said.

The Cabinet will meanwhile pay a flat fee of 10 million yen, in line with the level set for the SDF’s past participation in U.N.-led peacekeeping operations, he said.

The Defense Agency currently limits the maximum payout for the death of SDF personnel to 60 million yen.

The condolence payout was set at a maximum of 30 million yen when the SDF was sent overseas for the first time in 1992 to join the U.N.-led operations in Cambodia.

It was raised to 60 million yen before the SDF was dispatched to East Timor for operations in 2002, when the island was involved in armed conflicts over its bid to gain independence from Indonesia.

Safe places in Iraq

Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Tuesday there are places in Iraq where Self-Defense Forces troops could be sent to avoid danger.

“The security situation is an issue that needs to be addressed, but there are places that meet conditions for the law,” Kawaguchi said, referring to a special law enacted in July on the dispatch of SDF personnel to assist in reconstruction work in Iraq — in noncombat areas only.

She said not all areas in Iraq are facing a worsening security situation, despite the increase in attacks on U.S.-led forces.

Japan is still making preparations for the dispatch of the troops to southern Iraq, expected to be sent by the end of this year.

International organizations, including the United Nations, have also been attacked in Iraq, and the U.N. has pulled out its personnel, citing safety concerns.

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