A senior Japanese diplomat who left the Foreign Ministry on Aug. 29 is planning to challenge the ministry as he believes he was “virtually fired” due to his opposition to Japan supporting the U.S.-led war on Iraq, the ex-diplomat told Kyodo News in a recent interview.

Naoto Amaki, who was the ambassador to Lebanon until August, said he was told to retire “apparently as a virtual punishment for my opinions,” which he presented to the ministry before and after the war began March 20, an allegation dismissed by ministry officials.

It is rare for a career diplomat to take issue with Foreign Ministry affairs.

The ministry officials said it only suggested that Amaki, 56, voluntarily retire in view of the end of his term in the Lebanon post and in line with ministry reforms promoted following recent power-abuse and money scandals.

Amaki plans to talk about the background of his retirement and “the Foreign Ministry’s abomination that has been seen from within” in an address to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan slated for Oct. 8, through publications and on other occasions, he said.

The former ambassador said that on March 14 he sent an official telegram arguing, “The launch of a war on Iraq without a U.N. resolution will undermine the framework for international peace. Japan should strongly urge the United States not to wage war.”

He also sent a telegram on March 24 after the war began, charging that the outright support expressed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for the U.S. war policy was “going in the wrong direction.”

He sent both messages to all the other overseas establishments as well as Tokyo in an attempt to get fellow ambassadors to join him in raising issue with the government’s support of war, he said.

Shortly after that, he received a call from Deputy Vice Minister Shinichi Kitajima and was asked if he was intending to call it quits. Kitajima was also quoted as telling Amaki that sending telegrams to all diplomatic missions would lead to disclosing secrets.

Sometime around June, Kitajima, the official in charge of personnel affairs, ordered Amaki to return to Tokyo and then to retire, he said.

“I got fed up with the Foreign Ministry’s predisposition to adhere to the U.S.,” Amaki said. “It is heartbreaking to antagonize former colleagues but I will unveil the problems with the Foreign Ministry that I have learned in my long life as a diplomat.”

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