Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated Wednesday that his administration will never change the nation’s nonnuclear weapons policy.

“We never said we are going to change our nonnuclear policy (of never possessing, producing or allowing any country to bring into Japan nuclear weapons),” Koizumi said during a session of debates with opposition leaders in the Diet.

“There will be no change whatsoever to this policy that we have kept to date,” the prime minister said in answer to a question by Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan.

A remark made by Yasuo Fukuda, chief Cabinet secretary and Koizumi’s top aide, during an off-the-record conversation with reporters last month sparked criticism against the government and raised suspicion that Koizumi’s administration may be considering an immediate change in the policy.

Fukuda apparently suggested that Japan may claim the right to possess nuclear weapons in the future as the international security environment changes.

Asked to comment on the United States preparing contingency plans for use of nuclear weapons against countries including Iran, Libya and Syria, Koizumi showed his understanding of the policy.

“(I understand) that the U.S. has its own national security policy and keeps all options available,” Koizumi said.

This prompted Kazuo Shii, the Japan Communist Party leader, to claim that Tokyo’s “attitude of just following in the U.S.’s footsteps was behind Fukuda’s thoughtless remark.”

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