Prime Minister: Japan seeks to rebuild Iraq, but decision on sending troops yet to be made
Japan's Prime Minister said Wednesday that Tokyo had a responsibility to help rebuild Iraq, but he will decide whether to move ahead with plans to contribute peacekeepers only after determining if conditions on the ground are safe.
Junichiro Koizumi's comments came shortly after he easily won approval from Parliament to stay on as Japan's Prime Minister in a vote seen as a formality.
"As a responsible member of the international community, Japan must take part in supporting reconstruction and providing humanitarian aid in Iraq," Koizumi said during a news conference.
However, Koizumi, cited by AP, made clear that deteriorating security conditions in Iraq mean his government's plans to contribute Japanese military or civilian personnel to that effort remain in limbo.
"The conditions are severe," he conveyed. "If we send the Self-Defense Force (SDF) or civilians, we will look hard at the situation on the ground and take sufficient account of safety considerations."
Signing orders for Japanese troops to help out with non-combat duties in war-stricken Iraq was supposed to be a formality for him after Parliament passed a law in July approving the mission.
However, the law stipulates that Japanese peacekeepers must be sent to "non-combat areas" - which Prime Minister's opponents in Parliament claim simply doesn't exist in Iraq.
"We will make a decision while continuing to closely monitor the situation in Iraq," Koizumi restated Wednesday. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)