Three Iraqis demonstrated their karate skills and techniques Saturday during a session of the 45th All Self-Defense Forces Karate Championship at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan hall.

They are among eight members of the Iraqi Karate Federation and its branch in Al-Muthanna Province now in Japan at the invitation of the Foreign Ministry to boost Japan’s image in Iraq through sports exchanges, the ministry said.

Riyadh Kazhem Awadh, 26-year-old chairman of the Al-Muthanna branch, and two others demonstrated kicks and jabs while some 500 karate enthusiasts from the Ground Self-Defense Force watched and applauded their performance.

Al-Muthanna Province is where GSDF troops are providing humanitarian assistance.

“There is a deep appreciation for the activities of Ground Self-Defense Force troops among Iraqi people, so we would take a serious blow if Japan decides to pull out the troops,” Awadh said.

The Iraq Karate Federation started the sports exchange with the SDF in January when the GSDF troops delivered a gift of 100 karate uniforms to the federation. The uniforms were a present from the Japan Karatedo Federation.

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