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Japan court dismisses constitutional challenge to deploying troops in Iraq

[JURIST] A Japanese court on Friday rejected a suit filed by 3,200 citizens who argued that Japan's deployment of troops to Iraq violates the country's pacifist constitution [text], which bans the use of force to settle international disputes. The plaintiffs also argued that the Iraq war is a war of invasion which violates international law. They sought $270,000 in emotional damages. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi [official profile] has defended the deployment of troops to Iraq, saying they are helping with a strictly humanitarian mission that is needed to help stabilize the country. There are currently 5,400 similar suits pending throughout Japan.

Last year, Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party proposed amending the constitution [JURIST report] to allow Japan to assemble armed forces that are assertive on an international level. Japan [JURIST news archive] currently maintains a 240,000-strong Self-Defense Force [Global Security backgrounder] and since early 2004 has had 550 troops deployed in Iraq. Japan's media has speculated that the government may begin to withdraw troops later this year, but government officials say that troops will not be withdrawn until Iraq becomes politically stable. AP has more.

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