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Japan’s decision to send forces to Iraq is a “historic move,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers during a press conference here today.

Myers, here to meet with Japanese military leaders, said the Japanese decision to send about 1,000 members of the Ground Self-Defense Force to Iraq is welcomed by the international community.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced the decision in December. This is the first time Japanese forces will serve as part of a coalition not sponsored by the United Nations. The soldiers will be engaged in helping to rebuild Iraq, and will be based in the southern part of the country. They will work with Dutch soldiers, and will come under the command of a British general.

Western diplomatic officials said the move was a courageous one, and that the prime minister “was ahead” of the Japanese people. Officials also said that there is uncertainty as to what will happen in Japan if the Japanese forces take casualties in Iraq.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.