Page last updated at 03:26 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 04:26 UK

Japan 'ends Iraq supply mission'

Japanese troops in Iraq, June 2006
Japanese ground troops left Iraq two years ago

Japan will withdraw the troops it had based in the Middle East in support of the US-led coalition.

Government officials said that some 200 air force troops would be brought home from Kuwait by the end of the year.

They have been deployed to fly goods and personnel into Iraq since Japan withdrew its ground forces from the country two years ago.

Japan's pacifist constitution blocks military operations, but humanitarian troops served for two years.

After the ground deployment from 2004 to 2006, the current supply mission began, despite opposition disapproval.

The opposition Democratic Party, which strongly opposes Japan's military mission, has been gaining ground on the government amid growing calls for a general election in the aftermath of the resignation of the Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda.

US President George W Bush said on Wednesday that most of the international forces in Iraq were preparing to pull out as the US begins to withdraw some of its own units.

Japan's last Iraq troops return
25 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific