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The charge d’affaires at the Iraqi Embassy in Tokyo on Wednesday nudged Japan to lean on the U.S. to avert a war in his country.

“It’s better for Japan to work in the direction of defusing the problem” than talk about helping to reconstruct Iraq after a military conflict ends, Qasim Shakir told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. “Japan could talk to the U.S. about having a peaceful solution to this problem.”

Shakir noted it is understandable that Japan is supporting the U.S. ultimatum on Iraq because of its own security concerns.

“Mr. (Junichiro) Koizumi has his own reasons to back the U.S.,” Shakir said, referring to the prime minister’s statement on Tuesday in support of U.S. plans to forcibly disarm Iraq. “The Japanese position may be affected by the crisis in North Korea.”

Shakir indicated that Baghdad would not consider Japan an enemy even if U.S.-led forces attack Iraq because Japan is not expected to participate militarily.

As for Japanese nationals who have traveled to Iraq to serve as human shields, Shakir welcomed them for “supporting Iraq and fighting against war.”

As of Wednesday, there were 29 Japanese in Iraq, including journalists and nongovernmental organization officials, according to the Foreign Ministry. Six say they are willing to remain in Iraq to serve as human shields in the event of war.

U.K. vows to heed U.N.

Staff report Britain will respect the United Nations when discussing postwar reconstruction work in Iraq, the British ambassador to Japan reaffirmed Wednesday during a meeting with Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba.

Stephen Gomersall was quoted as saying his country may go to war along with the United States as the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair gained parliamentary approval for the move Tuesday.

He said Britain hopes to gain international support when conducting humanitarian and nation-building work after the expected war, and wants to discuss the matter through the U.N. framework, according to Defense Agency officials who briefed reporters.

Gomersall’s remarks confirmed an agreement made by the leaders of the United States, Britain and Spain at their summit in the Azores on Sunday.

Ishiba expressed his support, saying, “Japan will discuss the issue (of postwar reconstruction) in that direction, too,” according to the officials.

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