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Japan is debating what thier role is in the fight against terrorism.
During his discussion with LaFleur, Nukaga, an influential LDP member, said: "The Japanese people won't support the United States if it chooses to suddenly attack Iraq. It will be difficult (for Japan) to directly aid the United States because of constraints imposed by the Constitution."
Listening to the resolute tone of LaFleur's remarks, Nukaga came away from the meeting feeling Japan, as a U.S. ally, would have to make a painful decision about how to respond if the United States attacked Iraq.
Following the Sept. 11 attacks, Japan enacted its Antiterrorism Law and dispatched Self-Defense Forces vessels to the Indian Ocean to provide logistic support to U.S. and British military forces.
Japan also made diplomatic contributions to the antiterrorism campaign, including hosting an international conference on reconstructing Afghanistan. But the Antiterrorism Law was hastily prepared and can only be applied for a limited period.
Contingency bills intended to form the pillars of Japan's response to an armed attack have been carried over from the last ordinary Diet session to the next Diet session, but do not contain clauses concerning antiterrorism measures.
Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, when asked for his advice on the summit talks in North Korea on Sept. 5, said: "You should carefully discuss his visit to North Korea with President Bush when he visits the United States, and you should act in close cooperation with him." Nakasone reemphasized that Japan should not act in any way contradictory to U.S. policies toward North Korea.
An unidentified ship spotted Sept. 4 off Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture was believed to be a North Korean vessel because it raised the North Korean national flag. Repeated intrusions by unidentified ships have directly threatened Japan's national security.
Takushoku University Prof. Satoshi Morimoto pointed out that "compared with the United States, Japan's attitude toward terrorism and other new types of threats is too lenient."
Japan has reached a point at which it must seriously consider permanent legislation allowing it to exercise the right to collective self-defense to counter any kind of emergency.
Koizumi's summit talks with North Korea and Japan's response to U.S. attacks on Iraq will be touchstones that will reveal whether Japan has been successful in the efforts it has made at crisis management and diplomatic strategy over the course of the year following the terrorist attacks.
A former foreign minister said both issues would demand "significant decisions that seriously affect the fate of the nation."
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