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Japan's PM Defends Iraq Mission - 2004-10-12

Japan's prime minister has defended the decision to send troops to help with the reconstruction of Iraq.

In a speech to Japan's parliament Tuesday Junichiro Koizumi said Iraqis have appreciated the efforts of the Japanese troops, and have asked them to remain.

Opposition parties are expected to question the decision during the parliamentary session, in light of the recent report by the chief U.S. weapons inspector that Iraq has no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Koizumi's address comes one day before an international donors conference for Iraq meets in Tokyo. Japanese officials say the two-day session will encourage countries to follow up on their earlier pledges, and not necessarily commit new funds.