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With the United States, Britain and Spain setting a deadline for military action against Iraq, nongovernmental organizations in Japan called Monday for continued diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.

“Why are the U.S. and Britain, and not the United Nations, paving the way for a war?” asked Cho Mi Su, an executive committee member of Peace Boat. “An armed attack will not resolve the situation.”

Cho is a third-generation Korean resident of Japan.

Peace Boat, founded in 1983 by a Japanese group, occasionally charters ships to regions of conflict or controversy to study the situation.

The U.S. is about to make a “big mistake,” said Mitsuo Okamoto, a professor of peace studies at Hiroshima Shudo University, referring to the possibility that President George W. Bush may launch a war against Iraq as early as this week.

“If it ignores the United Nations and begins a foolish war, the United States itself will be labeled a rogue state,” Okamoto said. “Only civil movements can challenge the United States, the single remaining global superpower. I want to persistently raise my voice of opposition until the end.”

Tokushin Yamauchi, a former treasurer of the Okinawa Prefectural Government who organized an antiwar gathering in Naha over the weekend, said an attack on Iraq would be a crime.

“What President Bush is about to do is an utmost tragedy and a criminal act,” Yamauchi said. “From the standpoint of Okinawa, which experienced the misery of war, I want him to stop.”

Democratic processes take time, he said, urging Bush to maintain diplomatic efforts.

On Sunday, Bush and his British and Spanish counterparts, meeting in the Portuguese Azores, set a one-day deadline for diplomatic efforts at the U.N. Security Council to come up with a resolution giving Iraq an ultimatum to disarm or face military action.

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