Subject: Japanese troops arrive in East Timor with little fuss

Japan troops arrive in East Timor with little fuss

JAKARTA, March 24 (Reuters) - Around 300 Japanese U.N. peacekeepers arrived in East Timor at the weekend with no sign of the protest which marred the arrival of the advance party earlier this month.

Around 20 Timorese demonstrated against the advance party of two dozen engineers when they arrived on March 4, decrying Japan's occupation of the tiny territory during World War Two when thousands of Timorese were killed.

But the U.N. said the arrival of the 300 troops in Dili on Saturday and Sunday passed without incident.

"There were no protests at all," chief information officer for the U.N. peacekeepers Lieutenant Colonel Jan Fredrik Drangsholt told Reuters, adding they arrived by commercial aircraft.

Around 700 Japanese peacekeepers will eventually be based in East Timor in what will be Japan's biggest ever peacekeeping effort. The rest of the contingent will arrive in the next three to four weeks.

The overseas dispatch of Japanese military forces has long been a sensitive topic in Japan and throughout Asia where memories of the country's past militarism run deep.

East Timor came under U.N. administration not long after a bloody independence vote in August 1999 to break from 24 years of often brutal Indonesian rule.

A multinational force led by Australia came in to restore peace to the half-island territory and was later replaced by a U.N. peacekeeping force.

Australia still has the largest number of troops in the 5,000-strong force of 22 nations which is due to be phased out by June 2004.

The U.N. said the Japanese would mostly be deployed in Dili, Maliana, Suai, and the enclave of Oecussi.

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