Statement by the Prime Minister of Japan Taro Aso
The Government of Japan decided that it will complete the mission of the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) in Iraq, by the end of this year, based on the judgment that the objective of the ASDF's mission has now been fulfilled.
The international community has been unified in providing support for Iraq's reconstruction in order to assist the Iraqi people's efforts to reconstruct and rebuild their country. Japan, for its part, has been steadily assisting Iraq by combining the contribution by the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and Official Development Assistance (ODA) as "the inseparable pair of Japan's assistance".
The process of establishing a democratic government has made steady progress and the security situation in Iraq has shown trends of improvement. As seen in such developments, the Iraqi people have been proceeding with self-sustained reconstruction.
The ASDF has been contributing to the stability and reconstruction of Iraq by providing airlift assistance for the activities of the United Nations and the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I). The ASDF has conducted about 810 flights and transported a total of about 46,000 passengers and about 670 tons of cargo. Such airlift assistance has received appreciation by the Iraqi Government, the UN and the MNF-I related countries.
The UN has started operating its own charted flight for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). As for the MNF-I, there are several countries that have completed their activities. Iraq, for its part, has an intention to consult with the relevant countries on the activities and composition of MNF-I beyond the end of this year.
Today's decision is also based on such an intension on the part of Iraq. The UN and relevant countries also have expressed understanding on this decision.
The Government of Japan takes this opportunity to express its gratitude to the people and the government of Iraq for having warmly welcomed the SDF, as well as the UN and the relevant countries that have cooperated with the SDF, including Kuwait and the U.S.
I am proud of every member of the ASDF who is conducting their missions under severe working conditions. I express my sincere respect and appreciation to those who have fulfilled their mission. I call for continuing dedication of each member of ASDF to their mission until its completion.
The Government of Japan will continue assistance projects such as yen-loan-financed projects and technical assistance, beyond the completion of the ASDF's mission by the end of this year. It is time that the bilateral relationship between Japan and Iraq be stepped up to focus on enhanced political dialogues as well as on the promotion of business and economic relationships. The Government of Japan will continue making efforts so that the results of Japan's reconstruction assistance provided thus far will take root, while aiming at fostering a broader and long-term friendly relationship with Iraq.