Japan's defense minister to visit Europe for talks on force dispatch to Iraq
Japan's Defense Minister departed on a six-day visit to Europe on Sunday for talks on Iraqi reconstruction, while hundreds of protesters demonstrated nationwide against the government's plan to dispatch troops to help rebuild the war-stricken country.
Shigeru Ishiba will first stop in Britain and the Netherlands before traveling on to France, a Defense Agency official said, requesting anonymity.
Japanese press reports have said Ishiba will ask that Dutch troops "protect" Japanese forces who are expected to begin arriving in southern Iraq in February to help rebuild schools, provide clean water and transport supplies.
He will also reportedly ask for unspecified British cooperation and explain Japan's mission to French officials. (Albawaba.com)
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