• Kyodo


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday he will closely monitor how the U.S. Congress reacts to President Barack Obama’s request for permission to attack Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime for the alleged use of chemical weapons.

“I took President Obama’s announcement as the expression of his grave determination,” Abe told reporters in Chiba Prefecture. “I will closely watch the process in the U.S. Congress.”

Japan “will continue to closely cooperate with the United States and the international community in collecting and analyzing information,” he added. “We will work to ensure even a little improvement” in the situation.

Both Abe and Kishida did not make clear whether Japan will back a U.S. military strike in the Middle Eastern country, which has been in the midst of a civil war since early 2011.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met with Abe earlier in the day to brief him on his talks over the telephone Saturday night with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The two diplomats agreed to cooperate in addressing the unrest in Syria.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera meanwhile said at a news conference that “we are closely watching how (the United States) will respond” because the lawmakers are scheduled to return from summer vacation on Sept. 9 to consider what measures to take in response to the alleged Aug. 21 attack Assad’s government allegedly conducted against its own citizens.

“It is evident chemical weapons have been used in Syria,” Onodera said without elaborating. The “Cabinet will make decisions while exchanging views” with Washington.

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