TOKYO — Japan has pledged more support for Iraq, including a loan to fix a power plant and assistance with recovering weapons from territory reclaimed from the Islamic State group, aiming to help bring stability to the embattled country.
Kentaro Sonoura, a special assistant to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi discussed these issues Saturday at a meeting in Baghdad.
Japan agreed to help Iraq work to secure the many loose weapons that have made their way throughout the country, a serious problem that has facilitated terrorism. The effort will take inspiration from the “sword hunt” ordered by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a 16th-century Japanese leader who sought to maintain public order by seizing weapons from commoners, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official. The details will be worked out going forward, the official said.
This will be accompanied by expanded vocational training for Iraqis to improve their quality of life.
The promised support also includes a roughly 21.5 billion yen ($195 million) loan for repairs to the Hartha power plant in southern Iraq, one of the country’s largest.
Iraq sees frequent protests amid frustration with poor living conditions, including an unstable power supply that can leave citizens without electricity for up to 10 hours a day in sweltering heat. Years of conflict and economic sanctions have kept the country from upgrading its electrical infrastructure to keep up with demand.
The Hartha facility was built in the 1980s with support from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems received an order in 2015 to refurbish one of the plant’s four units.
In return, Sonoura asked the Iraqi government to work with Japanese companies seeking oil concessions in the country. Baghdad responded positively to the request, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry.
Iraq recaptured the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State in July and is working to rebuild the area.