Japan has told the United States that it will begin withdrawing its Ground Self-Defense Force troops from Iraq next June and will complete the withdrawal by the end of August, government and ruling coalition sources said Tuesday.
The pullout will follow the reported withdrawal around May of British and Australian forces in charge of security in southern Iraq where the Japanese troops are deployed to assist in Iraq's reconstruction, the sources said.
Moreover, the withdrawal will be completed before Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi steps down in September when his term as president of the Liberal Democratic Party expires, sources said.
According to a new basic troop deployment plan obtained by Kyodo News on Tuesday, Japan will extend the mission, currently due to expire December 14, by another year but will consider pulling the troops out of Iraq even before their planned new term ends.
The Japanese government is set to adopt the plan today at an impromptu Cabinet meeting.
The new basic plan says Tokyo will assess, in determining the mission's future, the multilateral forces' "activity conditions and changes in their composition including the British and Australian forces in Muthana Province," where Japanese troops have been deployed.
It will also take into account the December 15 elections, local security there including the transfer of authority to Iraqi security forces, and progress in the country's reconstruction, the document