Abadi in Tokyo as Japan's PM faces Iraq scandal

On the second and final day of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's visit to Tokyo, his host and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe was the target of rising public criticism for an alleged cover-up of documents relating to troops his country sent to Iraq over a decade ago.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - On the second and final day of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's visit to Tokyo, his host and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe was the target of rising public criticism for an alleged cover-up of documents relating to troops his country sent to Iraq over a decade ago.

On Wednesday, Abadi and Prime Minister Abe met to discuss various issues which included potential future Japanese financial support to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure damaged by the conflict with the Islamic State (IS) and the safe return of displaced Iraqis to their places of origin, now liberated from the group's control.

"As you did in your fight against terrorism, you will succeed in reconstruction," Abe said, according to a statement released by Abadi's office.

Abe is expected to announce a 35 billion yen ($330 million) loan for irrigation projects in Iraq at the conclusion of the state visit.

In a speech given at a conference on Iraq held in Tokyo on Thursday, Abadi said, "We expect our brothers and friends to share our responsibility for rebuilding the war-ravaged country and the consequent decline in infrastructure for basic services."

A statement released by the Iraqi Prime Minister's media office characterized the Japanese-organized conference as one "supporting job creation," in Iraq, though the focus could be more accurately described as improved arms control in the country through employment and vocational programs. Such an aim is consistent with Japan's strict policy of pacifism, written into its post-World War II constitution and which had not allowed it to send troops to a country where fighting was ongoing until the controversial deployment to Iraq.

Between 2004 and 2006, Japan sent roughly 5,500 personnel to Iraq to provide water and medical aid and help repair infrastructure, a move which still stirs public debate in Japan about whether the country took part in a war or not, and has come back to haunt Prime Minister Abe.

Late Wednesday, Japan's Defence Minister revealed that logs of the deployment that had been requested by his predecessor last year, and had been told by the army were non-existent, had in fact been known to be in its possession at the time. By failing to disclose this, he charged, Abe's government was engaging in a cover-up to avoid further controversy about the deployment to Iraq.

This comes as Abe is embroiled in multiple scandals, among them claims of corruption and another cover-up over the discounted sale of state-owned land. Recent polls indicate his current approval at 42 percent in Japan, an all-time low for the prime minister.