Thursday, December 09, 2004

Japan Keeps Troops in Iraq

The Japanese government and PM Koizumi continue to back the US in Iraq. Japan extended its troop commitment in Iraq for another year, despite opposition among the Japanese public.

The AP reports:

"We must not give in to terror," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said in a nationally televised address. "The Iraqis are trying to build a government with their own hands. We must support this. The Self-Defense Forces are needed for this end."

The extension of the mission, which was to expire next Tuesday, had been widely expected, despite polls that show about half of Japan's citizenry oppose the deployment for fear the troops could be drawn into the fighting...

"We must not isolate the United States. We must create an environment in which the United States can cooperate with the world," Koizumi said. "I emphasize the importance of this every time I meet President Bush."

"Japan cannot ensure its peace and independence on its own," he added. "I recognize the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance."

Although the Japanese have only a small force (550) and are only providing humanitarian assistance, it is still a significant deployment given Japan's history and pacifist constitution.

In a government often criticized for lacking the ability for decisive leadership, PM Koizumi has shown an admirable willingness to try to provide just that.