The Iraqi foreign minister is formally asking Minister of Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura to extend the deployment of non-combat SDF personnel in Iraq:
On 14 September, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura and Iraqi Foreign Minister al-Zebari met at the United Nations headquarters in New York; al-Zebari officially requested an extension of the term of the SDF deployment, which ends in December. Machimura responded that Japan will make its decision based on a comprehensive assessment of the status of Iraq’s reconstruction. Also, both foreign ministers were in accord about [the need for] close cooperation toward the goal of stability in Iraq.
The Nikkei says that this is the first official request for such an extension made at a meeting, but Koizumi was reporting a few weeks ago that he’d received such a request (by letter, presumably). His response was almost exactly the same as Machimura’s, too. It’s not clear how much more time al-Zebari asked for. (This year’s deployment is already an extension of last year’s, BTW.) Of course, in return, Japan has extracted a promise from Iraq to support its bid for permanent membership on the UN Security Council.