Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Wednesday he finds it “very deplorable” that the United States has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, but he stopped short of saying whether Japan will ratify the pact even without U.S. participation.

He merely pledged to continue trying to persuade Washington to abide by the accord.

“I find it very deplorable that the U.S. government said the pact was fatally flawed,” Koizumi said in a Diet debate with opposition leaders. “We will continue efforts to find a way to earn their understanding and cooperation.”

But when Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, urged the prime minister to seek Diet approval of the pact independently as a step to press the U.S. to change its position, Koizumi said: “At the moment, we have not decided to make an independent decision.

“There are issues that should be dealt with independently, and those that should not be handled that way. We should make efforts to move things along a course that will lead to meaningful greenhouse gas cuts while thinking about each countries’ actions and positions.”

The protocol, adopted in 1997, requires industrialized countries to impose binding limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012.

The U.S. would be required to cut emissions by 7 percent under the protocol. On Monday, U.S. President George W. Bush called the pact “fatally flawed,” and called for an alternative requiring the participation of developing countries and more ‘science based’ solutions.

In the session, Koizumi also said Bush’s new missile defense plan is “worth studying in a careful manner, since it would have a huge impact on more than world security.”

He also said that even if the system is aimed at arms reduction, he could not deny that there is a possibility that it will lead to the proliferation of weapons. “From the aspect of military affairs, there is always the question of the relation between a shield and a halberd,” the prime minister said.

“Even when one says that it is for arms reduction and arms control, when the question is on whether there is a possibility that it will lead to the proliferation of arms, I cannot deny that possibility.”

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