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Government officials were bombarded by inquiries from the public and media on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning following bogus online reports that two Japanese had been killed or injured in Iraq.

The information was later confirmed to be false.

The Foreign Ministry and Defense Agency received numerous phone calls in connection with the information, believed to have originated on an Internet Web site, ministry officials said.

One of the reports stated that two Self-Defense Forces members in Iraq had been killed, while the other claimed that two Japanese journalists had been injured there.

The furor finally died down after the ministry confirmed shortly after midnight that all SDF members and other Japanese nationals in Iraq were safe.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said in a regular news conference Thursday afternoon that the government had confirmed the safety of all Japanese nationals in Iraq whose contact address was known by the Japanese Embassy in the country.

Hosoda admitted that the government has found it difficult to confirm the number of Japanese nationals or journalists who may be in Iraq without the knowledge of embassy officials.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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