Ground Self-Defense Force troops stationed in southern Iraq have recently fortified their camp by building concrete walls to defend against mortar attacks.

Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the camp’s establishment in Samawah, where the troops are carrying out humanitarian missions to help rebuild Iraq.

A mortar shell landed in the British military camp there late last month, less than a month after British forces took over security duties from the Dutch troops, which have left.

The GSDF troops lived in tents while building the first camp in February last year and were constantly in danger of being exposed to hostile fire. The camp, made of steel containers, was completed in the middle of April.

The reinforced areas, made of prefabricated materials with concrete walls around them, were completed at the end of March and are sturdier than any structure being used by the British forces, sources said.

“Building a safe camp had been the primary goal of our predecessors,” said Col. Kiyohiko Ota, the leader of the GSDF’s fifth contingent to Samawah. “Now we can sleep without worries.”

Japan has sent about 2,800 troops to Iraq. They have repaired public facilities and roads and are conducting other road repair projects. The aid mission is estimated to have created 160,000 jobs for the Iraqis.

The GSDF has conducted more than 100 medical technology seminars at local hospitals, but has stopped supplying water because Japan has already helped install water purification equipment at various locations.

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