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A dispatch of Self-Defense Forces troops to take part in the postwar reconstruction of Iraq would first require a fresh United Nations Security Council resolution, top officials of the ruling coalition parties said Sunday.

The government is considering new legislation that would pave the way for the SDF dispatch.

Speaking on a Sunday morning NHK TV program, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Taku Yamasaki said it would be impossible for Japan to create such a law without a Security Council resolution calling for international efforts to rebuild Iraq following the ongoing U.S.-led attacks.

Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, secretary general of New Komeito, one of the LDP’s ruling coalition partners, also said a new Security Council resolution concerning Iraq’s reconstruction “will be needed as a prerequisite.” Fuyushiba appeared on the same program.

Katsuya Okada, secretary general of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said on a TV Asahi news program that Japan should cooperate in rebuilding Iraq if the United Nations adopts such a resolution. But he also expressed a reservation. “I wonder if it is all right to let the U.N. deal with the aftermath of the U.S.-led war without reviewing the fact that the United States took military action ignoring the U.N. Security Council,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated his support for the U.S.-led attack on Iraq, saying it is “natural” for Japan to back Washington as an ally. He made the remarks during an address at a graduation ceremony at the Defense Agency in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

“When the United States, an absolutely invaluable ally of our country, is sacrificing itself, it is natural for our country to back the move as much as possible,” Koizumi told some 400 graduates. “We should never overlook the fact that Iraq breached a number of United Nations resolutions over the past 12 years. We would be faced with a dangerous situation if a dangerous dictator possesses weapons of mass-destruction. It is not someone else’s affair.”

Koizumi has been unequivocal in his support for the U.S.-led operation even though media surveys show that about 80 percent of the Japanese public is against the war.

The prime minister has emphasized the importance of Japan’s alliance with the U.S., which he says works as a deterrent against the potential security threat from North Korea.

During Sunday’s address, Koizumi also stressed the need for Japan to have an “appropriate level of defense capability” and to maintain the U.S.-Japan security alliance while at the same time seeking “international cooperation.”

He said it is necessary for Japan to explore new ballistic missile defense systems in light of fears that North Korea may launch such a missile.

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