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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Wednesday rejected an opposition demand that he apologize for making a “serious mistake” in supporting the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

Koizumi argued that Baghdad deserved the military attacks for neglecting the international community’s calls for a peaceful resolution to the prewar crisis.

During queries in the House of Representatives plenary session, Katsuya Okada, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, said Koizumi “should frankly admit supporting the U.S.-led war against Iraq was a serious mistake and apologize to the Japanese and the Iraqi people.”

“Prime Minister Koizumi supported the Iraq war on the grounds that there were weapons of mass destruction,” Okada said. But “weapons of mass destruction did not exist.”

However, Koizumi brushed aside the issue of Iraq having WMD — whose existence has been called into serious doubt since the top U.S. arms inspector issued a report last week stating there was no evidence that Iraq had such weapons after the 1991 Gulf War.

“It is not relevant to point out that supporting the attacks against Iraq was wrong,” Koizumi said, citing how Iraq repeatedly refused to abide by resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council and neglected opportunities to resolve the crisis by cooperating with the international community.

On the scandal involving the Japan Dental Association and the LDP’s largest faction, formerly headed by ex-Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, Okada asked Koizumi to urge Hashimoto to testify before the Diet to explain what his involvement was in the faction’s alleged failure to report 100 million yen in donations it received from the dental association in 2001.

Hashimoto, who has said he does not remember accepting the money from the dental association executives, has indicated that he is ready to speak at the Lower House political ethics panel, meetings of which are normally held behind closed doors.

The opposition camp has demanded that Hashimoto testify in an open session — possibly at the chamber’s Budget Committee — rather than at the ethics panel.

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