TOKYO, June 20
(Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced Tuesday at a
press conference that Japan has decided to withdraw the Ground Self-Defense
Force troops from Iraq, Kyodo News reported.
|Japan's Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi speaks during a news conference at his official
residence in Tokyo June 20, 2006. (Xinhua/Reuters
Koizumi talked about the plan on Tuesday morning with
leaders of the ruling coalition and opposition parties shortly before the
announcement. He described the Iraq mission as "a chapter has been finished," a
government source was quoted as saying.
Japanese Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro
Nukaga issued an order to withdraw the troops right after the premier left the
Japanese government officials indicated that the
pullout may begin later this month and be completed by the end of July.
The move is said to be a response to an announcement
by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who said on Monday that Iraqi forces
will take over the security task in July in Muthana Province, where the Japanese
troops have been stationed.
However, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force will
continue to stay in Iraq to provide assistance to the United Nations'
reconstruction efforts, Kyodo said.
Koizumi said at a press conference on Monday that
Japan will continue to help the Iraqi people even after the ground troops are
Japan has stationed some 600 Ground Self-Defense
Forces troops in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah, capital of Muthana
Province, for a non-combat medical, reconstruction and humanitarian mission as
part of the U.S.-led multinational force since early 2004. Enditem