Also in Japan, the government announced today its intention to withdraw its air force mission in Iraq by the end of the year.
The Japanese air force mission, made up of 210 personnel, has been flying supplies to support U.S.-led forces. It is based in Kuwait.
[Nobutaka Machimura, Chief Cabinet Secretary]:
"After discussing with both the Iraqi and the U.S. governments as well as the United Nations, we will start making preparations to withdraw our air force troops from Iraq by the end of the year."
Machimura pointed out that the mission's purpose to help restore Iraq has almost been achieved, as the security situation has improved.
This comes at a time when Tokyo faces difficulty renewing approval of a marine refuelling mission in the Indian Ocean, in support of U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan.