Japan hails al-Zarqawi's death 'a step forward'

Japan on Thursday hailed the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, as a step forward that would hopefully lead to improved security in the Middle Eastern country. "It's a step forward," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said after US and Iraqi officials announced that al-Zarqawi, who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and kidnappings, has been killed in an air strike. "I hope (his death) can help in improving the security in Iraq given that al-Zarqawi has been a symbolic presence for foreign terrorists in Iraq," Kaneda was quoted by Kyodo News agency as saying.