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Japanese troops on aid, rescue mission

National Security Council meeting prelude
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, left, and Defense Agency Director General Gen Nakatani ahead of talks that cleared the way for Japanese troop involvement  


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Japan will send 1,500 troops for the Afghan relief operations which are likely to start in next few weeks, a senior Japanese official said Friday.

Japan will send two transport ships, escorted by three destroyers, to the region to provide logistical support and bring in relief supplies for Afghanistan, said Daisuke Matsunaga, assistant press secretary for the Japanese foreign ministry.

Also, Japan will send eight aircraft , including six transport planes, to help the U.S.-led international coalition in its campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan, he told reporters.

"Japanese self defense forces will not take part in combat operations ... nor they will be deployed inside Afghanistan or Pakistan," he said. They will concentrate on relief work, logistical support and may carry out rescue operations, he added.

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The Japanese warships and troops will be the first Japanese military contingent to help forces in combat since the end of World War II.

Matsunaga said that Japan wants mainly to contribute rehabilitation and development efforts of war-battered Afghanistan.

Warships in Gulf

A flotilla of three Japanese warships carrying several hundred sailors set sail for the region earlier this month, making good on the Japanese government's pledge to support U.S.-led forces in the war against terrorism.

Their mission is to provide non-combat military support. This role is unlike any Japan has filled since World War II.

Ten years ago Japan agreed to send minesweepers to the Persian Gulf only after the Gulf War was over.



 
 
 
 


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