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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 168 (December 16, 2004)

[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile

Extension of SDF deployment to Iraq

Junichiro Koizumi here.

Last week, on the afternoon of December 9, the Government of Japan decided to extend for one year the activities performed by the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Iraq.

I would like to take this opportunity to share my basic view on this matter.

First, I would point out that the dispatch of SDF members is contingent on their operations taking place in a non-combatant region. I have responded to questions at the Diet that the region in which the SDF operates is a non-combatant region. Samawah continues to be a non-combatant region at the moment, and I have judged that this situation is likely to remain the same.

Although the SDF members carry machine guns and pistols for their own safety, I have received reports that throughout their deployment, SDF members have not fired a single bullet nor even raised a weapon while out in the city or engaged in reconstruction assistance activities.

I also hear that the SDF members are welcomed by the local people at the times they leave their cantonment areas on missions to provide medical assistance, carry out water supply activities or engage in reconstruction of public facilities. The local people wave as SDF members pass by in their vehicles which bear the Japanese national flag.

Of course we cannot ignore the fact that the situation on the ground remains unpredictable. As nothing comes with 100 percent certainty, we have to respond to changing circumstances and conditions accordingly and appropriately.

Second, I would like to point out that many local residents of Samawah have expressed deep gratitude and high praise for the dedicated efforts of the SDF. As such, I would once again like to express my respect for the SDF members who despite the severe conditions are toiling away in their mission day after day with a sense of pride and confidence that their activities are benefiting the people of Iraq.

The president and prime minister of the Iraqi Interim Government, the regional governor and the people of Iraq have voiced their appreciation to the Government of Japan for the activities of the SDF for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Iraq and have requested that it be continued.

The people of Iraq are now devoting their efforts to reconstructing their country by their own hands. They are working hard to realize a legislative election next January in order to establish a stable, democratic government. As part of this process, the people are striving to fight against the forces trying to impede the legislative election through acts of terrorism.

Under such circumstances, I do not see how the Government of Japan could possibly turn down the request by the local people requesting that the SDF members continue their activities in Iraq. I believe that it is the responsibility of Japan to continue its activities that will be highly appreciated long into the future as Japan having extended a helping hand and provided the assistance necessary for Iraq's nation building when its people were in most need.

A reader of this e-mail magazine who remembers the humanitarian assistance that Japan received in the days immediately after the end of the Second World War sent me an e-mail, expressing his support for the humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Iraq. Japan stands where it does today thanks to the assistance provided by the international community when it was in most need.

The United States and the United Kingdom stood at opposite ends from France and Germany at the outset of armed hostilities in Iraq. Since then however, reconstruction assistance to Iraq was unanimously approved at the United Nations (UN). France and Germany are both in favor of this decision. All members of the UN are expected to provide assistance in the manner most appropriate to them.

Japan does not provide the same type of assistance as the US or UK. The SDF members do not take part in security activities nor do they use force.

With international coordination, the humanitarian assistance provided by the SDF shall serve in tandem with economic cooperation through official development assistance (ODA) as the two wheels on the axle of Japan's assistance to enable the people of Iraq to rebuild their own country.

If the situation allowed, I would like to have the people from the private sector of Japan take part in activities for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Iraq instead of entrusting this task solely to the SDF; however, regrettably the current situation does not allow for such participation from the private sector.

Considering the fact that the development and prosperity of Japan rests upon the peace and stability of the world, I am convinced that the assistance that Japan currently provides, the continuation of humanitarian assistance by the SDF and financial assistance are in its national interest.

The one-year period until next December will be a critical time for the people of Iraq to build a democratic government through their own efforts. As such, I decided that a one-year extension to the dispatch of the SDF would be most appropriate.

I ask the people of Japan to support the efforts of the SDF members in Iraq who are working hard for Japan, the world, and first and foremost for the people of Iraq.

An SDF commander in Iraq has sent the following contribution to this e-mail magazine.

"It is not to be remembered by history or to be cited by official record that I wish to engage in work here, but to remain in the memories of the people of Samawah, who may one day say, 'the Japanese came through for us, traveling from a distant 8,000 km to do so.' This is why I want to be here, still standing on Samawah soil tomorrow."

* The title of this column "Lion Heart" is a reference to the Prime Minister's lion-like hairstyle and his unbending determination to advance structural reform.

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Japan-Bulgaria Summit Meeting (December 15, 2004)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Mr. Simeon Saxe-Coburg, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria.

- Japan Organizing Committee and the ROK Advisory Committee for the "Japan-Korea Friendship Year 2005" Pay Courtesy Call on Prime Minister (December 14, 2004)
Prime Minister Koizumi received a courtesy call from representatives of the two committees and said, "I expect the mutual understanding between the people of Japan and the ROK to be enhanced."

- Japan-Jordan Summit Meeting (December 13, 2004)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with His Majesty King Abdullah II Bin Al-Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

- Japan-Timor-Leste Summit Meeting (December 13, 2004)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Mr. Xanana Gusmao, the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

- Thirteenth Meeting of the Urban Renaissance Headquarters (December 10, 2004)
"Development of Measures against Global Warming and Heat Island through Urban Renaissance Projects" was adopted at the meeting.

- Japan-Germany Summit Meeting and Joint Press Conference (December 9, 2004)
Prime Minister Koizumi and Mr. Gerhard Schroeder, the Chancellor of Germany, agreed to cooperate in their efforts for UN Reform and reconstruction assistance to Iraq.

- Decision on the extension of the Basic Plan regarding humanitarian and reconstruction assistance of the Self Defense Forces in Iraq (December 9, 2004)
(Statement by Prime Minister Koizumi)
(Press Conference by Prime Minister Koizumi)

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General Editor: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
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