Japan denies reports that it will send troops

Japanese officials have denied reports saying that the country plans to send troops to Lebanon. The Kyodo News agency had previously reported that the Japanese government was studying a plan to provide logistical support for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon monitoring the cease-fire between Israel and Hizbullah, citing unnamed government officials. The Kyodo report said it remained uncertain whether Japan would approve the deployment given strong concerns over possible recurrence of fighting in southern Lebanon. The final decision is expected to be left to the new Japanese government, which will be launched later this month after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi steps down, Kyodo said. Government officials denied a Lebanon mission was in the works. "We are not considering a dispatch as reported," said Natsuko Sakata, a Foreign Ministry official in charge of Japan's peacekeeping operations. "The international community has been cooperating and we are thinking about what we can do, not just peacekeeping operations," she added, without elaborating.