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The government maintains that it had made the right decision to support the U.S.-led war against Iraq, despite the conclusion of the U.S. chief weapon inspector that there were no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction there, the chief Cabinet secretary said Thursday.

Hiroyuki Hosoda was responding to a report released Wednesday by Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, who concluded that Iraq did not have WMD as the U.S. claimed at the start of its pre-emptive war with Iraq in March 2003.

“If we had left the matter unattended, it could have developed into a grave threat in terms of nonproliferation of nuclear (arms) and weapons of mass destruction,” the top government spokesman told a news conference.

“The U.S. government has taken a position that this report does not deny the legitimacy of the war. So have we.”

He said Japan has supported the war not because of the U.S. allegations that Iraq possessed WMD, but due to U.N. resolutions that Tokyo believes have justified the use of force against Iraq.

Hosoda said Iraq was obligated to prove it did not have WMD, and this requirement was supported by U.N. resolutions.

The government is expected to face tough questions on its position from opposition lawmakers at an extraordinary Diet session that begins Tuesday.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has cited the threat of Iraq’s possession of WMD as a major reason for Japan’s support of the war, while the opposition camp has strongly opposed Koizumi’s decision. Public opinion is sharply split on the issue.

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