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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Taipei Times > Powell nudges Japan to reconsider pacifism

Powell nudges Japan to reconsider pacifism
Saturday, Aug 14, 2004,Page 5
US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Japan must consider revising its pacifist Constitution if it wants to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Kyodo news agency reported yesterday.
Article Nine of Japan's US-drafted Constitution renounces the right to go to war and forbids a military, although this has been interpreted as permitting forces for self-defense.
"If Japan is going to play a full role on the world stage and become a full, active, participating member of the Security Council, and have the kind of obligations that it would pick up as a member of the Security Council, Article Nine would have to be examined in that light," Kyodo quoted Powell as saying.
"But whether or not Article Nine should be modified or changed is absolutely and entirely up to the Japanese people to decide, because the United States would not presume an opinion," he added in an interview with Japanese media in Washington on Thursday.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told a lawmaker from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ruling party last month that Japan must revise the Constitution and play a greater international military role if it wanted a permanent Security Council seat, Japanese media have reported.
Japan sent troops to help rebuild Iraq in non-combat roles.
Both the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the opposition Democratic Party are working on proposals to revise the Constitution, but many citizens and lawmakers oppose changing the nation's commitment to pacifism.
A Mainichi Shimbun poll published in May showed that 78 percent of Japanese lawmakers were in favor of making some changes to the document, but 70 percent were against changing Article Nine.
Powell reiterated US plans to take legal action against Charles Robert Jenkins, a US Army sergeant accused of deserting to North Korea in 1965 and now in Japan for medical treatment.
"We are working with the Japanese government and Mr. Jenkins is in touch with various people as to how he might deal with this matter in a legal sense," Powell said.
Powell wanted Japan to think again about a decision to invest in a $2 billion project to tap Iran's Azadegan oil field, saying he hoped Japan would take into account Iran's suspected nuclear plans.
He said it "seems clear to us that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon" and accused Iran of resuming construction of centrifuges for its uranium enrichment program, Kyodo said.
"I would hope that the Japanese government, [and] Japanese businesses, would take this into account as they make judgments as to whether this is the place that one should be making investments in or doing this kind of energy business with," Powell said.
The Japanese state-backed oil company INPEX Corp sealed a deal in February to develop the Iranian field.
Iran says its nuclear programs are solely for generating electricity and not for building nuclear weapons.


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