• Kyodo

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U.S. President George W. Bush concluded his speech Friday to mark the first anniversary of the start of the U.S.-led war on Iraq with remarks on the diary written by a Japanese diplomat killed there in November.

“With Afghanistan and Iraq showing the way, we are confident that freedom will lift the sights and hopes of millions in a greater Middle East,” Bush said in the White House speech. “One man who believed in our cause was a Japanese diplomat named Katsuhiko Oku.

“In his diary he described his pride in the cause he had joined,” Bush said.

Oku, 45, a counselor at the Japanese Embassy in London, was sent to Iraq in April 2003 to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority. He was killed Nov. 29 in an ambush by unknown assailants in northern Iraq.

Masamori Inoue, 30, a third secretary at the Japanese Embassy in Baghdad and Iraqi driver Jerjees Sulaiman Zura, 54, were also killed.

Bush stressed the need for the international community to unite against terrorism by quoting remarks from Oku’s diary written in Iraq.

“We must join hands with the Iraqi people in their effort to prevent Iraq from falling into the hands of terrorists. This is also our fight to defend freedom,” Bush quoted Oku as writing.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this good man from Japan was right,” Bush said. “The establishment of a free Iraq is our fight. The success of a free Afghanistan is our fight. The war on terror is our fight.”

Bush delivered the speech before an audience of ambassadors and other representatives from more than 80 countries, including Japanese Ambassador to the United States Ryozo Kato.

In the speech, Bush mentioned Japan several times as a key partner of the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

He said Japan made “historic commitments” by sending troops to Iraq.

It is the first dispatch of Japanese troops to a combat area since the Self-Defense Forces were inaugurated in 1954.

Bush said Japan is contributing to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan through a project to reconstruct a highway linking Kabul and Kandahar.

He cited Japan as a member of his Proliferation Security Initiative, which is intended to block the spread of weapons of mass destruction and related materials by seizing them in transit.

Training boost The government is planning to step up capacity building programs for Iraqi nationals in third countries because the security situation in Iraq still does not warrant dispatches of Japanese instructors, government sources said Saturday.

In the months ahead, Japan is planning to invite Iraqis working in the power and water supply industries, and education, to neighboring Jordan for training programs, the sources said.

The Foreign Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency have based staff in Jordan to liaise with officials in Iraq.

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