Japan has said wants to withdraw its remaining military personnel from Iraq by year’s end, wrapping up an overseas mission that had pleased Washington but divided this pacifist nation.
Defense Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the country was negotiating a withdrawal of its small military airlift mission because of the improved security situation in Iraq. He said the Iraqi government had asked for a reduction in the presence of foreign military.
However, the future of the Afghan mission is also in question as the law currently authorizing it comes up for renewal in January. Renewing the law may prove difficult because the opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, which controls the upper house of Parliament, is against renewal.
Perhaps – just perhaps – the ruling politicians in Japan will begin to listen to their citizens. If they do, they’ll have a headstart on the United States.