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The Foreign Ministry is considering ways to beef up security at the Japanese Embassy in Iraq amid deteriorating security in Baghdad and other parts of the country, a senior ministry official said Wednesday.

“I think there are about three ways to do this — ask the Self-Defense Forces, or the police, or use another method — and we are currently having serious discussions with concerned parties to decide,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The ministry is consulting with the Defense Agency and the National Police Agency on the possibility of having them dispatch troops or police to protect the embassy and its staff.

The third option involves stepping up security by hiring more guards from the private sector to protect the embassy, the official said.

Observers said the security measures at the embassy appear weaker than the military protection at other diplomatic compounds in Iraq, making it a potentially easy target for terrorists.

On Nov. 29, two Japanese diplomats and their Iraqi driver were killed when their vehicle was attacked near the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit.

Violence has spread mainly in central and southern Iraq recently, as seen in a string of clashes since last weekend between supporters of anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the U.S.-led occupation forces.

The incidents have prompted the Defense Agency to tighten security in Iraq and caused the reconstruction aid activities of the Ground Self-Defense Force troops outside their camp in the southern city of Samawah to be suspended.

“We had not envisioned this kind of situation, so we need to come up with an outcome quickly,” the official said. “Unlike other countries’ military and police, (the SDF and Japanese police) have not had training on protecting the embassy under such circumstances or guarding people at the embassy, so we also need to consider this aspect.”

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