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Hundreds of Japanese File Petition Against Deploying Troops to Iraq - 2004-02-24

Even as United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan is praising Japan for its military deployment to Iraq, a class action lawsuit is seeking to have the deployment declared illegal.

More than 1,200 petitioners filed the lawsuit Monday. They argue that Japan's military deployment to Iraq violates the country's pacifist constitution, which forbids the use of force to solve international disputes.

The plaintiffs denounce the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq as an aggression that Japan has no legal right to support.

They are asking for about $92 each to compensate for their mental suffering and the violation of their right to live in peace.

About 1,000 Japanese troops are in Iraq in a humanitarian capacity, to improve infrastructure and provide medical and engineering services.

The government says the deployment is important both for Iraq and for Japanese-American relations. However, it is highly controversial, with some polls showing only half the Japanese public supporting it.

Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, has praised the mission during his visit to Tokyo this week.