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Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka cautioned NATO Monday, saying its accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade has deeply hurt China’s prestige.

“Foreign embassies are considered the sovereign territory of those countries,” Nonaka told a regular news conference. “The incident involves a grave problem because it injured China’s dignity as a sovereign state.

“Japan feels deep regret over the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia.”

The remarks by the government’s chief spokesman came after Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi confirmed Japan’s support for the NATO airstrikes.

Asked by reporters earlier in the day if Japan supported NATO’s airstrikes, Obuchi was quoted as saying, “That’s right.”

The bombing of the Chinese Embassy provoked large-scale protests against NATO and the United States in major Chinese cities.

Nonaka said Japan has filed a request with the U.S. Embassy and the Belgium Embassy, which plays host to NATO headquarters, requesting that NATO be extraordinarily cautious to avoid inflicting similar casualties and structural damage in the future.

Nonaka said the incident is truly regrettable, especially since it came immediately after the Group of Eight countries agreed on a basic policy toward establishing peace in Yugoslavia. “Japan strongly hopes a peace agreement will be reached as quickly as possible in Yugoslavia through political means,” he added.

Meanwhile, Obuchi, speaking during the morning session of an Upper House special committee, offered his condolences to the victims of NATO’s errant strikes. “The … strikes were extremely regrettable,” Obuchi said. “I want to express my deep condolences to the victims. We hope the United Nations, which can play a significant role in peace and stability in the world, will display its ability. “The government of Japan will make efforts to help the United Nations solve the problem.”

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