Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Liberal Democratic Party officials on Saturday moved to reassure the world again that his government would not break with the nuclear taboo following remarks by one of his closest aids the previous day that Japan may revise its three nonnuclear principles.

“They are not even worthy of serious discussion,” Koizumi told reporters in front of the former Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Tokyo upon arrival from Seoul.

Japan, the only nation to have been attacked by nuclear weapons, has maintained since the late 1960s a set of three nonnuclear principles of “not producing, not possessing and not allowing nuclear weapons into the country.”

A top-ranking government official told reporters Friday in Tokyo: “The principles are just like the Constitution. But in the face of calls to amend the Constitution, amendment of the principles is also likely.”

The official, who wished to remain anonymous, made the comment in the light of some polls suggesting that a growing number of people support amending the war-renouncing Constitution.

Makoto Koga, former secretary general of the LDP, said: “We must maintain the three nonnuclear principles. The remarks popped up all of sudden and I do not have a clue why such a comment came out at this time.

“Japanese people don’t have such revision in their minds at the moment,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba also criticized the remarks: “I am concerned that the ultimate goal for the government is to become a country with nuclear weapons. The remarks will create a sense of mistrust about Japan abroad. and lead to increased risk of nuclear proliferation.”

Opposition parties also reacted strongly to the remarks and the issue is sure to stir debate in the Diet on Monday.

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