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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February, 2004, 16:07 GMT
In pictures: Japanese troops in Iraq
Japanese troops stand in formation
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Japanese troops are highly visible in the southern Iraqi town of Samawa, but so far there are only about 100 in the city. Another 400-500 troops are set to arrive over the next few weeks.
A member of Japanese Self-Defence Forces in Iraq guards the perimeter of the Dutch camp where they are temporarily based in Samara
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They are currently staying at the Dutch base, Camp Smitty, until their own base is set up about 6km (4 miles) out of town.
A Dutch soldier (R) gets a free ride on an armoured personnel carrier of Japan's Self-Defence Force
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This means that the Dutch troops can take advantage of the 40 vehicles - including armoured personnel carriers - that the Japanese have airlifted to Iraq.
 US Undersecretary of Defence Dov Zakheim (L) is greeted by Col Masahisa Sato, commander of Japanese troops in Samawa
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US Undersecretary of Defence Dov Zakheim made a surprise visit to the base to welcome the Japanese contingent to Iraq - describing their presence as "a major step for Japan".
Medics from Japan's Ground Self-Defence Forces in Samawa talk with an Iraqi doctor during their visit at the Samawa General Hospital
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The Japanese troops' mission is purely non-combat. Their aim is to rebuild schools, purify water and help provide medical care in the impoverished desert city.
A member of Japan's Self-Defence Force consults Iraqis as he guards the Samawa General Hospital
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A leading Shia cleric of Samawa has called on his followers to help the Japanese soldiers in their efforts to reconstruct the city.


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