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Hiromu Nonaka, former secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, expressed opposition Friday to a plan to expand the Self-Defense Forces’ mission of refueling foreign warships in the Arabian Sea.

“It will cost huge sums of money,” Nonaka told the LDP Executive Council. “While some people are committing suicide over the sluggish economy, we shouldn’t do a pointless thing.”

Maritime Self-Defense Force ships are currently providing fuel to U.S. and British warships under a special antiterrorism law, but the government may expand the mission to include refueling military vessels of several other countries, including Germany and France.

According to government sources, Japan has begun making arrangements with Canada, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Spain to expand the refueling to include their naval vessels.

Japan may begin the expanded operation later this month after exchanging documents with the nations involved but will bar Japanese oil from being used in an attack on Iraq, the sources said earlier.

Japan enacted the law in October 2001 to provide logistic support to the U.S.-led force fighting terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.

Koizumi backs U.S.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Friday criticized observations that the United States is applying a double standard toward Iraq and North Korea regarding the use of force.

“I think they have misunderstood,” Koizumi said in response to the opinions expressed at a Liberal Democratic Party meeting earlier in the day. “It’s a different story from North Korea. There was the Gulf War, and Iraq has not complied (with U.N. resolutions) after invading Kuwait.”

Koizumi said the international community must unite to deal with Iraq.

France, Germany and Russia want to extend the weapons inspection process in Iraq.

“We will call on (the international community) to make the case not as Iraq v. the United States and Britain, but as Iraq verses the international community,” he said.

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