A contingent of Japanese troops arrived in Iraq Sunday, in their first overseas assignment since the end of World War II. The controversial deployment will be a test for the Japanese leadership at home.But then...this happens...and I'd guess the two are related.
Around 80 Japanese soldiers crossed the Iraqi border from Kuwait Sunday in a convoy of 25 jeeps and armored vehicles. The soldiers are non-combat troops authorized to operate in Iraq on a humanitarian mission to help with the re-building of the country...
The advance team that arrived Sunday is part of a contingent that will eventually total 800 and be based in the southern Iraqi town of Samawa. Most are engineers supplied by the Japanese Air Force and a naval contingent based in Kuwait.
The Japanese soldiers in Iraq are heavily armed, like other coalition troops, but their officers say they will only use their weapons to defend themselves if attacked.
The Japanese Embassy in Baghdad was evacuated to another site in the city amid fears of a terrorist attacak, government sources said.
"Embassy officials at times leave the building due to various (security) information," an unidentified senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official told the Japan Times.
The ministry official denied the embassy staff has officially withdrawn from the Iraqi capital.