The Cabinet said Friday it will revise the basic plan for deployment of the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq following the recent withdrawal of troops from the country.

The government removed from the plan provisions for activities by the Ground Self-Defense Force and added two more areas in Iraq to which the Air Self-Defense Force will conduct airlifts from Kuwait with C-130 transports, according to government officials.

Japan’s Iraq deployment began in early 2004 under a special law to support the reconstruction of the country.

The deployment period will expire Dec. 14. But an extension seems inevitable, and a decision on whether to end the ASDF mission will be left to the successor of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who leaves office in September.

The ASDF extended its operations to Baghdad late last month.

While Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga has claimed Baghdad airport is a “noncombat zone,” a Foreign Ministry source said it is the “area with the highest level of security risk in Iraq.”

As the sectarian violence worsens in Iraq, calls for the ASDF to withdraw are likely to intensify among some lawmakers, especially in the opposition camp.

Aside from removing provisions relating to the GSDF, other key revisions include the addition of Talil and Arbil to the list of airport facilities in Iraq for use by the Kuwait-based ASDF unit. The initial list comprised Baghdad, Basra, Mosul and Balad.

The government vowed to “appropriately” deal with the timing of when to withdraw the ASDF unit and review its activities based on various conditions, the officials said.

The conditions include progress in the political situation toward establishing effective rule by the new Iraqi government, local security, changes in the composition and activities of the U.N. and multinational forces, and progress in the reconstruction of Iraq.

As a basic policy, the government emphasizes its resolve to continue reconstruction aid, saying, “In light of continued support to Iraq by the United Nations and multinational forces, Japan will continuously implement measures centering on humanitarian and reconstruction activities.”

Japan had vowed to expand its ASDF airlift operations when it decided in June to end its deployment of troops, which had provided noncombat rehabilitation and humanitarian aid in the southern Iraq city of Samawah.

The pullout came in line with the transfer of the security role to local authorities from Britain and Australian Forces in al-Muthanna Province.

The GSDF completed the troop withdrawal last month.

Indonesia visit

Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga will make a three-day visit to Indonesia beginning Monday for talks with government leaders, agency officials said Friday.

Nukaga is scheduled to meet separately with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono. He will also visit some military facilities in the country, the officials said.

“Indonesia is a major nation among the 10 countries of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations),” Nukaga said Friday.

“We believe the development of ASEAN will lead to Japan’s stability.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.