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Japan has no plans to withdraw troops from Iraq
Updated: 2005-07-08 09:31

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he had no plans to withdraw his troops from Iraq following the fatal bomb blasts in London.

Asked by journalists at a Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, if he would consider bringing the troops home, Koizumi replied: "No."

The attacks and the Japanese operation in Iraq "should not be directly linked," he added.

A group calling itself the Organisation of Al-Qaeda Jihad in Europe claimed Thursday's attacks in London and threatened similar strikes in Denmark, Italy and other "Crusader" states with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Japan, a major US ally in Asia, has deployed some 600 troops to the southern Iraqi city of Samawa, a relatively peaceful area, on a mission to help rebuild the war-torn country.

It is officially pacifist Japan's first military deployment since the end of World War II to a country in conflict, although their mission is humanitarian.

But Japanese troops have been the targets of anti-US forces in Iraq.

The Japanese camp in Samawa was hit by a shell earlier this week after several large explosions were reportedly heard near the base.

The camp has been on heightened alert since June 23 when a vehicle in a Japanese convoy was slightly damaged in a roadside explosion in which no one was injured.

The camp has been directly shelled four times since January 11. But there have been no injuries to Japanese forces since their deployment in December 2003.

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