Japan's defense chief visited Japanese troops in southern Iraq amid rising expectations that Tokyo will extend its humanitarian mission there into next year, Japanese news agencies said.
Defense Chief Fukushiro Nukaga left Tokyo on Friday for an unspecified destination. Defense Agency officials declined to confirm the reports that Nukaga was in Iraq, citing security concerns.
Nukaga arrived in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah by helicopter Saturday and inspected his troops on humanitarian mission there. He also visited a nearby elementary school repaired by the Japanese troops and met with British and Australian military officials to discuss the region's security, public broadcaster NHK reported.