Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Announces Plan to Withdraw Troops From Iraq

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced his plan Tuesday to withdraw troops from Iraq at a ruling party meeting, a party official said, moving to end Japan's largest military mission since World War II.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of party protocol, said Koizumi told a meeting of the Liberal Democratic Party that he would make a public announcement of the pullout later in the day.

"We've finished this chapter," Kyodo News agency quoted Koizumi as telling party executives.

CountryWatch: Iraq

CountryWatch: Japan

Japan has about 600 troops in the city of Samawah in southern Iraq. Although the mission is strictly non-combat and humanitarian, the deployment broke new ground as a symbol of Tokyo's more assertive military policy of recent years.

Koizumi was scheduled to meet with leaders of his coalition partner and the opposition Tuesday, opening the way for an announcement of the withdrawal later in the day.