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Statement by the Prime Minister of Japan on the Redeployment of Ground Self-defense Force Troops from Samawah
June 20, 2006
The Japanese Government decided today that it will redeploy the Ground Self-defense Force (GSDF) troops that have been engaged in humanitarian and reconstruction activities in Samawah, Iraq since the beginning of 2003, based on the Special Measures Law for Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance for Iraq, judging that the objective of the GSDF's activities was now fulfilled. In addition, Japan decided to provide support for the UN's activities and the ongoing activities of the MNF, and has reached a decision to newly provide air-lift support to Baghdad and Erbil. In addition, after the redeployment of the GSDF, Japan will be providing assistance with a focus on the improvement of economic infrastructure through Yen loans, in coordination with the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) to be organized by the Multi-National Forces (MNF).
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 SDF personnel and Official Development Assistance (ODA), as a responsible member of the international community. With such support by the international community, the Iraqi political process has shown concrete progress. In December last year, the National Assembly elections were conducted. More recently, the new Iraqi Government was established. The process of transferring security responsibility to Iraq is moving forward. As seen in such developments, Iraq has taken the first full step to self-sustained reconstruction under the leadership of a democratic government.
In Al-Muthanna Province two and a half years of efforts by the GSDF troops in a wide range of areas including medical services, water provision and repair work on public infrastructure such as schools and roads, as well as Japanese ODA, have yielded visible results including rehabilitation and improvement of local infrastructure and creation of job opportunities. For example, all residents have gained access to basic medical care. In Samawah Maternity and Children Hospital, post-delivery mortality rate of newborns decreased to about one third of the rate in the first half of 2002. Improvements have been achieved in provision of water and educational environment. On employment, Japanese assistance, including repair work on public facilities by the SDF and job opportunity creation projects through ODA, created a maximum of approximately 6000 job opportunities per day, and a total of 1.56 million job opportunities. Furthermore, with Japanese ODA, construction work has started on a major power plant in Samawah. Once this plant is completed, a leap will be achieved in provision of electricity. In addition, the Government of Japan intends to continue providing reconstruction assistance to this region of Iraq, such as construction of bridges in Samawah, and irrigation projects in Al-Muthanna Province. Such reconstruction assistance projects have lead to high appreciation and confidence by the Iraqi Government and the local people.
It is time that the bilateral relationship between Japan and Iraq be transformed to a broader relationship with stronger political and economic relations. The Government of Japan will endeavor to ensure that the results of Japan's reconstruction assistance provided thus far will take root and will work to foster a broad and long-term partnership with Iraq.
The Iraqi Government fully agrees with Japan's basic policy towards reconstruction assistance for Iraq as mentioned above. The Government of Japan takes this opportunity to express its gratitude to the people and the government of Iraq that have warmly welcomed the GSDF troops as well as the relevant countries that have cooperated with the GSDF in Samawah, including the UK, Australia, the Netherlands and the US.
I ask for the Japanese people's understanding and support concerning the abovementioned decision by the Government of Japan.