Japan to delay troop deployment to Iraq

02 December 2003
The Japanese government may delay a cabinet vote on the deployment of non-combat troops to Iraq after two Japanese diplomats were killed north of Baghdad on 30 November. The cabinet was scheduled to vote on 5 December on special legislation to send troops to Iraq, which was passed by parliament on 26 July. Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukuda said there was no decision on when the plans might be approved. 'This will be decided after ascertaining various conditions, and we have not decided the specific timing,' he said (MEED 1:10:03).

Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said that the country would definitely contribute to the reconstruction effort as soon as security in the country permitted. 'We must not give in to terrorism, and the incident should not be an obstacle to our work in rebuilding Iraq, nor should it be an impediment to the process of deciding whether we should send troops or not,' he said.

White House spokesman Richard Boucher said that the US was still expecting Tokyo to deploy troops. 'I think the Japanese government has said already that they are still committed to sending troops,' Boucher said. 'I expect the Japanese government will do what it says.' Japan was expected to send about 150 non-combat troops to Iraq in December and plans to send a total of 1,200 soldiers and civilians to help in the reconstruction effort.

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