TOKYO, May 16 (UPI) -- A Japanese general who heads the country's Defense Agency says Japan should continue its presence in Iraq.
"In any case, we must continue our activities" in Iraq, Kyodo news service quoted the director, Gen. Shigeru Ishiba, as saying. Japan dispatched 530 troops to Samawah in southern Iraq, where they are helping to purify water, provide medical aid and rebuild roads.
They were sent there under a special Japanese law that restricts the troops' activities to non-combat areas.
Ishiba was asked about whether Japan would participate in a U.N. multinational force under a new U.N. resolution.
"It would depend on how the new U.N. resolution turns out, but it's not to say that Japan cannot participate just because it is a multinational force," Ishiba said on Fuji Television Network.
He acknowledged that security in Samawah has deteriorated.
"It cannot be denied that security has worsened, but the people in Samawah are not supporting them," he said, referring to the insurgents. "The Dutch forces are fulfilling their responsibility of maintaining security in Samawah."
Japan's Constitution forbids the use of troops in a military offensive.