Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday announced the withdrawal of Japan's 600 ground troops from southern Iraq, saying they had accomplished their humanitarian mission.
Koizumi, in a nationally televised news conference, said the troops - dispatched in early 2004 - had helped rebuild the infrastructure of the area where they were based, and he pledged to continue aiding Iraqi reconstruction.
He offered no timetable for the withdrawal, but Kyodo News agency reported that Defense chief Fukushiro Nukaga immediately issued a withdrawal order.
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