41 percent of new lawmakers want Japan's troops withdrawal from Iraq by year's end

More members of Japan's new Parliament believe Japanese troops should be withdrawn from Iraq when their mission expires in December than believe they should stay, a survey said Wednesday.

Of the 480 lawmakers who won seats in Parliament's lower house in elections Sunday, 41 percent said Japan should pull out its troops from Iraq, while 34 percent said the deployment should be extended, according to the survey by the nationwide newspaper Mainichi. The rest of the lawmakers did not specify an answer.

The lower house approved the dispatch in January 2004, backing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the issue despite strong public opposition. Koizumi argued that Japan as an oil-dependent nation should do its part to rebuild Iraq and combat terrorism, while supporting top ally Washington.

Koizumi's ruling Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory in Sunday's parliamentary elections, boosting its seats in the powerful lower house by nearly 20 percent and giving the ruling coalition a two-thirds majority.

Japan dispatched 600 troops to the southern Iraqi city of Samawah in January 2004 to aid U.S.-led reconstruction efforts in Iraq. The mission expires on Dec. 14, but Koizumi has not made clear whether he intends to extend it, reports the AP.

Photo: Kyodo

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