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Taku Yamasaki, secretary general of Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party, suggested Sunday that Japan may cooperate with the United States if it decides to attack Iraq without a U.N. resolution.

Appearing on a Sunday talk show on TV Asahi, Yamasaki expressed concern over what might happen if deliberations bog down and Washington attempts to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein without a U.N. endorsement.

“Japan must make a political decision about what course of action to take” if such circumstances arise, Yamasaki said.

But he added that there must be clear evidence that Baghdad is engaged in developing weapons of mass destruction, and that such a decision should be made by the International Atomic Energy Association.

Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, secretary general of the New Komeito party, one of the LDP’s coalition partners, echoed Yamasaki’s views. He said Japan would have to make a political decision about extending cooperation to the U.S.

U.N. weapons inspectors are expected to submit a report on their findings in Iraq to the U.N. Security Council by Jan. 27.

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