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UPDATED: 16:16, October 31, 2004
Koizumi not to withdraw troops
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Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Sunday the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) will continue to provide humanitarian aid to Iraq despite a Japanese hostage had been killed, but he did not explicitly say whether to extend the mission.

"We must not bow to the saboteurs and must continue to help in the Iraqi people's reconstruction efforts," Koizumi said, adding that the killing of hostage "has no direct influence on the SDF's operation."

On whether Japan will extend the mission in Iraq, Koizumi said,"It should be determined after a comprehensive review on Iraq's situation.

The premier condemned the killing, vowing Japan will steadfastly fight terrorism.

Earlier, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda also maintained that the current SDF mission will go ahead, and the extension "will be determined properly after a comprehensive survey and review on Iraq's rebuilding process and security situation."

"Our basic policy has not changed, " he added

Japan has about 500 troops in southern Iraq. The government is reportedly mulling on extending the mission due on Dec. 14 for another one year.

Earlier Sunday, the Japanese government confirmed the beheaded body found in Baghdad as that of Japanese tourist Shosei Koda.

Koda, 24, was found Sunday beheaded by militants who demanded the withdrawal of the SDF within 48 hours through an Internet-borne video on Tuesday. Koizumi had flatly rejected the demand.

Source: Xinhua

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