Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi indicated Monday that he believes the U.S. already has enough of a U.N. Security Council mandate to go to war in Iraq.

He suggested that an attack could be waged on the basis of previous UNSC resolutions, including resolution 1441, which states that Iraq “will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations.”

Koizumi indicated that no fresh resolution is necessary after the United States, Britain and Spain set a Monday deadline for a diplomatic solution to the Iraq standoff.

The standoff is over how aggressive the international community should be in dethroning Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and seizing his suspected weapons of mass destruction.

While the U.S., Britain and a few other countries are pushing for a military solution, most governments favor keeping Hussein off balance through stepped-up inspections.

Koizumi stated that Japan would make a final decision on its own position and strategy after assessing the results of a Security Council meeting slated for Monday afternoon in New York.

Koizumi also repeated demands for Hussein to immediately give up his suspected weapons of mass destruction.

Whether the crisis culminates in war or peace, Koizumi said, “rests with Iraq.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda also indicated that a war is inevitable if Iraq fails to immediately disarm.

“We will urge the international community to make last-ditch efforts to be united, as well as demanding that Iraq drastically change its policy,” the top government spokesman told reporters.

Fukuda said Japan had viewed remarks made by U.S. President George W. Bush at a Sunday news conference “as a firm message demanding that Iraq disarm immediately and unconditionally, and that international society, particularly the Security Council, be united.”

Despite Koizumi’s comments, his government continues to hold out hope that the U.N. Security Council will give the U.S. its backing.

A senior Foreign Ministry official told reporters that Japan will still urge “relevant countries” to work to prevent the start of a conflict without a new U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force to disarm Iraq.

“The U.S. has yet to make a final decision,” the official said. “We have to urge (Security Council members) to exert eleventh-hour diplomatic efforts.”

France, China and Russia, all of whom have veto power, have been the most vocal nations against a war.

In dealing with the Iraq crisis, Koizumi has maintained that Japan will emphasize the importance of preserving both international unity and the Japan-U.S. alliance.

His political opponents and sections of the Japanese public have criticized this stance, however, describing it as “two faced” diplomacy.

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