KUN0068 4 GEN 0289 KUWAIT /KUNA-ERS7 MIL-JAPAN-IRAQ Japanese troops in Samawah to susped activities outside camp TOKYO, April 6 (KUNA) -- Japan decided on Tuesday to suspend the activities of the ground troops outside their camp in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah because of growing security concerns following fatal clashes between Iraqis and coalition forces in the country. "We made the decision after considering that a Shiite religious event will be held around Saturday," Iwao Kitahara, head of the secretariat of the defense agency's director general, said at a news conference. "Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) members will suspend operations outside their camp until the festivities are over," he added. It is the first time since the Japanese ground troops arrival in Samawah in January that the agency has decided to halt the troops' activities for security reasons. "There is no change in our policy of doing our utmost to ensure the safety of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF)," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters. Earlier in the day, Koizumi and other leaders expressed concern over the recent clashes in Iraq between US-led coalition forces and Shiites, which could affect Japan's reconstruction effort there. Meanwhile, Defense Agency Chief Shigeru Ishiba also said in a press conference that it is necessary to review the SDF reconstruction project in Samawah in light of the gap between what they can provide and what local Iraqi people expect. Japan has deployed about 550 troops to Samawah for providing clean water, medical assistance and help in repairing public facilities. But some local residents have expressed disappointment that the GSDF has not helped to improve the employment situation. (end) mk.rk KUNA 061651 Apr 04NNNN