(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Interview on the Issue of Iraq

March 18, 2003

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(Prime Minister's Remarks)

On the current situation of the Iraq problem, I would like to share with the people of Japan the position of the Government, and seek for your understanding and support. Earlier today, President Bush made a televised speech which I attentively watched live. President Bush emphasized that he warned Iraq that if the Hussein administration does not choose the way of peace, US is obliged to resort to military action. Japan up to now has aimed at a peaceful solution under international collaboration and exerted its own diplomatic efforts. Having listened to President Bush's speech, I felt that it must have been a painful decision. President must have made various efforts to obtain international collaboration. Under such circumstance, President Bush was left with no other option, and I support this. Though very limited, there is still a room for peaceful solution. This depends entirely upon the decision of the Iraqi government, of President Hussein. Now, the government of Japan will ensure safety of the Japanese nationals and avoid economic confusion.


Q. The government of Japan has been of the view that a new UN resolution would be desirable but there is an increasing possibility that military action is taken without a new UN resolution. How do you react to such a development? Also, there are differing views as to the legitimacy of the United States resorting to force without a new UN resolution. What would be the Prime Minister's view on this?

A. The government of Japan has so far been pursuing both the international coordination and the Japan-US alliance. Fully aware of their importance, Japan has been continuously exerting diplomatic efforts. On this account, it is regrettable that the Security Council could not act in unity. The United States and President Bush, however, as I said earlier, have been working hard on this problem. Some argue that there has been no resolution that could be a basis for the use of force. I understand that the series of UN resolutions including 1441 of last November and 678 and 687, such resolutions can stand as the ground for the use of force. I am also aware that the shared recognition of the international community that Iraq has not been sufficiently cooperating with these resolutions.

Q. If the United States resorts to military action, would Japan support the United States? There are those who voice strong caution or opposition to the use of force against Iraq among the Japanese public. How are you going to solicit the understanding of the Japanese people?

A. Though the chances are thin, the possibility of a peaceful solution still remains if President Hussein leaves the country. This possibility is very small. If the United States is obliged to resort to use of force in cooperation with the United Kingdom and other countries, Japanese government will support this decision. Japan, of course is not in a position to dispatch troops and engage in military action like the US and UK. Even if such a situation arises, Japan will not participate in war. This policy is to be firmly held. Besides, weapons of mass destruction; toxic gas and other chemical weapons, or anthrax and other biological weapons, if they fall in the hands of dictators and terrorists, it would not be the matter of tens or hundreds of lives but would be of thousands and tens of thousands of lives being threatened. This is not other people's affairs, I felt. It is extremely dangerous now that we came to the conclusion that there is no willingness to disarm on the part of the Hussein regime. I deem it appropriate to support the use of force by the United States.

Q. How do you intend to solicit the understanding of the Japanese people?

A. On the part of the government of Japan, we will go on with our efforts to hold together the importance of the Japan-US alliance and the international coordination. And, above all, in the 50 years in the post war era, our pursuing of international coordination while recognizing the importance of the Japan US alliance, led Japan to prosperity in peace. Damaging the confidence on the Japan US relationship, fostered by our predecessors, the people of Japan for more than fifty years, in my view, would go against the national interest of Japan. I am convinced that from now on as before, Japan has to pursue international coordination and cooperation while firmly holding onto the alliance with the United States. There would be discussion at the Diet. I would like to seek understanding and cooperation of the people through various opportunities.

Q. If the United States resorts to the use of force, would you not be asked for concrete contribution or cooperation? As for Japan, deliberation seems to be underway for support in the reconstruction after the war. We would like to hear your concrete plans.

A. Japan, even if the US and the UK resort to military action, will not participate in war. Japan will not use force, nor will it participate in military campaign. From now on, if the war starts,-- I sincerely hope that the number of victims are minimal and the combat should terminate quickly,-- but at the same time, Japan will be making its own decisions while reflecting upon what it can do and what is necessary for the post war reconstruction, and for the peace and stability of the international community.

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