• Kyodo

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Japan appeared to support the U.S. policy on Iraq on Tuesday, telling the U.N. Security Council it is “desirable” to adopt a new resolution showing Iraq has not fully complied in dismantling its weapons of mass destruction.

But Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Wednesday in Tokyo that Japan expressed its support for a new resolution in order to promote a unified international stance on Iraq, not to give its support to a U.S.-led attack.

“There is a misunderstanding,” Koizumi told reporters in an attempt to dismiss the view that Japan’s call for a new resolution immediately means it will support possible military action against Iraq.

The United States and Britain are now preparing a new resolution that would back an attack.

Speaking during a two-day open debate in the Security Council in which noncouncil member countries aired their position on Iraq, Japanese Ambassador Koichi Haraguchi cast doubt on the effectiveness of stepped-up inspections in Iraq, as proposed by France, Germany and other countries.

“Even if the inspections were to be continued and strengthened, they will hardly lead to the elimination of its weapons of mass destruction unless Iraq fundamentally changes its attitude of cooperating only passively,” he told the council.

Of the representatives from the 27 countries and organizations who spoke Tuesday, only Japan and Australia supported a hardline stance toward Iraq. The prevailing view of the others — including Jordan, Brazil, Peru, Vietnam and Ukraine — was that more time should be given to weapons inspectors and all peaceful means to resolve the issue should be explored.

Haraguchi said cooperation with the U.N. inspections is “inadequate” and insisted that “only Iraq and no other member state” has said it has been cooperating fully.

He urged the Security Council to adopt a new resolution that “clearly demonstrates the determined attitude of the international community” and called on members of the council to remain unified in demanding that Iraq give up its illegal weapons.

Iraq now has a “very limited time” to comply, he concluded.

Back in Tokyo, Koizumi said Japan was simply calling for the international community to unite and urge Iraq to come clean regarding its weapons of mass destruction.

“All countries are hoping for a peaceful solution. We’re not seeking a resolution leading to a military attack,” he said.

His remarks, however, miss the point that the new resolution is meant to give U.N. Security Council backing for a possible U.S.-led war on Iraq.

Asked whether Japan’s position would be understood under such circumstances, Koizumi only said: “I think so.”

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