Japan to withdraw air force from Iraq mission
Tokyo, September 11, 2008
Japan is to withdraw its air force from missions in Iraq, where they have been flying supplies in support of US-led forces, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said on Thursday.
The mission, based in Kuwait and involving about 210 air force personnel, will finish by the end of the year.
'The purpose, which was to rehabilitate Iraq, is about to be achieved, and the security situation is getting better,' Komura told reporters in Tokyo.
A non-binding Japanese court ruling said in April the mission was a breach of the country's pacifist constitution, but the ruling was dismissed by government and military officials.
An end to the mission comes as Tokyo faces difficulty renewing a law authorising a marine refuelling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of US-led military operations in Afghanistan.
Ending the Iraq operation, launched in 2003, may irritate the United States, Japan's biggest ally, which has urged Japan to continue both the missions.-Reuters