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Japan pulling out of Iraq
Yahoo News/AFP
May 20, 2006

OKYO (AFP) - Japan has begun making arrangements with the United States, Britain and Australia on a possible withdrawl of its troops from Iraq beginning in June, a press report has said.

The move Saturday was initiated as the southern Iraqi prefecture of Al-Muthanna, where the troops are stationed, was expected to regain authority from the multinational force by the end of June, the daily Yomiuri Shimbun said in its evening edition.

Japan, which renounced war under a US-imposed 1947 constitution, has some 600 troops in Iraq on its first military mission since World War II to a country where fighting is under way.

Japan may make a decision on the troop withdrawl as early as June and immediately start pulling out the troops, initially to neighbouring Kuwait, the daily quoted government sources as saying.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told visiting UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Wednesday that Japan was willing to transport goods and personnel in Iraq to support the United Nations.

The air transport proposal was aired earlier this month in Japanese newspapers, which said the government was looking at a way to remain engaged in Iraq without maintaining ground troops.

Japanese media reported last month that Koizumi would decide after meeting with US President George W. Bush in late June on a timetable for withdrawing Japanese troops

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