Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Japan preparing pullout of coalition of the coerced
The story from Japan;
Japan eyes mid-2006 pullout from Iraq
TOKYO (AFP) - Japan plans to pull its troops from Iraq in mid-2006 but will formally extend the historic mission until next December to give it room to decide the exact withdrawal time.
Japan is considering May as the date to end the military deployment, Tokyo's first since World War II to a nation where fighting is underway, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.
It said the government Wednesday told a ruling party leader that the two-year-old mission, which is due to end on December 14, will be extended by a full year to give the government more leeway on the time of withdrawal.
Japan is forced to make a decision on the domestically unpopular deployment at a time when the United States, its close ally, is hearing mounting calls for a quick pullout from Iraq.
The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper said the government decided on the withdrawal timetable due to the uncertain security situation in Iraq but on the assumption that the country's new government will be operating smoothly by late 2006.
Jiji Press reported earlier that Japan plans to keep deliberating on when to end its troop deployment even after extending the mission for a year.
Japanese troops, who are barred from combat under the US-imposed 1947 constitution, have not suffered any casualties or even fired a shot in their deployment in the relatively safe southern Iraqi city of Samawa.
The reconstruction mission has been seen as a way for the pacifist nation to exert global clout beyond being an aid donor.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party on November 22 proposed the first ever revision of the constitution that would recognize Japan has a military, paving the way for more peacekeeping operations overseas.