• Kyodo

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The activity logs from the Ground Self-Defense Force’s controversial 2004-2006 mission in Iraq may contain information suggesting Japanese troops faced dangerous situations, a senior Defense Ministry official suggested Friday.

According to the official, the word “combat” appears multiple times in the logs, which recorded the GSDF’s activities. The mission was controversial because it was the first time Japan had sent the SDF, whose role is restricted by the pacifist Constitution, to a country where fighting was taking place.

The ministry recently acknowledged the existence of the logs and is set to disclose them soon.

About a year ago, the ministry told the Diet none of the Iraq logs remained. That has fueled suspicions of a cover-up because such documents could be politically sensitive.

Japan sent roughly 5,500 troops to Iraq between January 2004 and July 2006 to provide medical aid, water and infrastructure repairs in Samawah.

The logs found at the GSDF comprise about 14,000 pages covering 435 days, or about three-fourths of the deployment. The ministry has been preparing them for disclosure, which could take place next week.

An internal GSDF report that was fully disclosed in 2015 said the troops faced mortar fire and rockets while conducting the reconstruction and humanitarian work, with the unit chief describing the mission as a “purely military operation.”

No Japanese troops were ever killed or injured in Iraq.

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