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China Objects to Japanese Peacekeeping Force in Iraq

The Chinese government says it is concerned by Japan's deployment of troops to Iraq.

An advance party of Japanese soldiers arrived in Iraq Monday to prepare for the eventual deployment of 1,000 non-combat military personnel.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters in Beijing Tuesday that it would be more consistent with peace and stability in Asia for Japan to maintain its policy of using its military only in self defense.

The statement reflects the concerns of a nation that still remembers Japanese aggression during World War II. China says 300,000 residents of Nanjing died when Japanese troops invaded that temporary Chinese capital in 1937.

The Iraqi mission is Japan's first deployment of troops into a war zone since World War II. The soldiers are to help rebuild schools, purify water supplies, and provide medical care in southern Iraq.

Japanese defense chief Shigeru Ishiba told reporters in Tokyo that officials will investigate reports that the newly arrived troops may become the target of a terrorist attack in the next few days. He offered no further details.

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has defended his government's decision to send troops to Iraq, despite strong domestic opposition. In a speech to parliament Monday, he said providing reconstruction assistance to Iraq is a global responsibility that Japan must share.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.