Four major opposition parties agreed Monday to demand the resignation of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda over his suggestion last week that Japan could abandon its three nonnuclear principles.

Although the remarks in question were initially attributed by the media to a top government official, Fukuda on Monday admitted that he himself was responsible.

On Friday, Fukuda told reporters that the three principles — not possessing, bringing in or using nuclear arms — are as amendable as the Constitution.

“In the face of (recent) calls to amend the Constitution,” he said, “the amendment of the three principles may also become in issue in the future.”

The Diet affairs chiefs of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party, the Liberal Party and the Japanese Communist Party noted during a meeting Monday that the nonnuclear principles form the nation’s backbone, and that all previous administrations have vowed to preserve them.

In addition to Fukuda’s resignation, the four parties also demanded that a House of Representatives special committee currently deliberating a package of bills regarding Japan’s reaction to military emergencies hold a special session attended by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

With the ruling bloc having rejected demands that Koizumi attend the session, the opposition boycotted the day’s committee proceedings, which closed without deliberation.

Meanwhile, Fukuda apologized to senior members of the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partners for the controversy his comments have provoked. He also said he would explain before the Diet what he truly meant in uttering them.

“I am sorry for causing such a nuisance at such a crucial time,” Fukuda said.

He added that the government has no plans to amend a resolution adopted in the House of Representatives in 1971, vowing that Japan will “not produce, not possess and not allow nuclear weapons into the country.”

Speaking before a gathering at a Tokyo hotel, however, DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama said, “Why doesn’t (Fukuda) realize that his remark runs counter to the global trend of world peace?

“I will do my utmost to urge him to resign as soon as possible.”

Takako Doi, leader of the Social Democratic Party, said she would further question the policies of the Koizumi Cabinet and urge the administration to resign as soon as possible.

“I am willing to thrust a red card at the Koizumi Cabinet,” she said, alluding to cards soccer referees show to players being ejected from a game.

But LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki leaped to Fukuda’s defense, noting that the resignation of the top government spokesman is unnecessary since he has more recently stressed that the Koizumi Cabinet has no intention of altering the three nonnuclear principles.

“I have no idea why the opposition parties are demanding Fukuda’s resignation,” Yamasaki said during a regular news conference.

Nevertheless, Fukuda’s remarks have drawn fire, even from within the LDP-led coalition.

“Japan is the only nation to suffer a nuclear bomb attack,” said Takenori Kanzaki, leader of coalition members New Komeito. “As the three (nonnuclear) principles are a government policy, they should not be altered.”

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