U.S. admits no WMD in Iraq; Japan says otherwise

by Reiji Yoshida

Despite a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell earlier this week that weapons of mass destruction are unlikely to be found in Iraq, Japan on Tuesday refused to admit that there are no WMD in the war-ravaged country.

Powell told a Senate hearing Monday that he believes “it’s unlikely that we will find any stockpiles” of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — the most explicit official comment so far that Washington’s key argument for waging war on the nation was probably wrong.

But Tokyo, a devoted ally of the U.S.-led war on Iraq, said Tuesday it is still too early to conclude that WMD do not exist in Iraq.

“Considerable investigations must have been conducted to find (WMD), but we don’t know their details,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told a regular news conference.

“It is not appropriate to give clear comments of our view at this stage.”

The government supported Powell’s comments in a speech at the United Nations Security Council session on Feb. 5, 2003, when he laid out the U.S. argument that Iraq possessed WMD.

On March 19, a day before the first anniversary of the war’s beginning, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters: “I still believe (WMD) exist.

“I believe it was a right war.”

On Tuesday, Hosoda said that before the war began, some countries other than the U.S. and Japan also had suspected that Iraq possessed WMD.

“You should make a judgment from a comprehensive point of view,” he remarked.