Japan has announced an end to its airlift operations in Iraq by the end of the year, citing security improvements and moves toward democracy in Iraq.
The largely formal order to end Japan's four-year participation in Iraq came at a government national security council meeting. It had been expected for months. Prime Minister Taro Aso said the mission had achieved its goal.
Aso says Iraq has demonstrated a steady effort to install a democratic government and the country's security has improved.
He says the Iraqi people are now making their own effort to rebuild their country.
The non-combative mission has tested the limits of Japan's pacifist constitution and divided the public.
Aso said Thursday that Japan will continue economic aid and technology support to Iraq.
He cited a similar moves by other countries ahead of the expiration at the end of the year of the UN Security Council resolution that sets the legal basis for U.S. troops in Iraq.
Iraq is also reviewing multinational forces' activities there.
Japan has airlifted equipment and troops since 2006 from Kuwait to Iraq, including Baghdad, in support of the U.S.-led forces.
Japan deployed about 600 army troops to the southern city of Samawah on a humanitarian mission from 2004, but that ended in 2006.
The airlift mission in Iraq began in 2006
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