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Japan announces Iraq withdrawal

Nov. 28, 2008 at 1:55 AM

TOKYO, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Japan, saying the Iraqi situation is improving, announced Friday it will end its military airlift mission in Iraq by year's end.

"The situation in Iraq is improving and Iraq has become able to reconstruct itself on its own by the Iraqi people under a democratic government,'' Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters.

He said Japan's air self-defense force mission had helped in improving the Iraqi situation, Kyodo news service reported. The mission began about five years ago to help in the reconstruction of the war-torn country, the news agency said.

CNN reported the announcement is part of an effort to withdraw Japan's 210 military personnel.

The report quoted the Japanese Foreign Ministry as saying the country's air force has conducted 810 flights, which included transporting passengers and cargo between Baghdad and southern Iraq.