JCP Chair Shii to Prime Minister Koizumi: Work for peaceful resolution of Iraq question

At the October 30 one-on-one debate in parliament with Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro, Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo urged the prime minister to make every effort to avoid a war with Iraq and help bring about the peaceful resolution of the Iraqi question.

Noting that in answer to Shii, Koizumi stated that the government will continue diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iraqi question without war, Shii told the press later in the day that the prime minister should definitely state that Japan is opposed to a U.S. attack on Iraq.

Remarks by Shii and Koizumi in the debates:

Shii: Normalization talks are under way between Japan and North Korea. The Japanese Communist Party asks the government to do its utmost to hold talks that will bring about a reasonable resolution of issues such as North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals and the development of nuclear weapons, based on the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration.

Today, I want to focus on the Iraqi situation. U.S. President George W. Bush's statement hinting at a possible U.S. war with Iraq has drawn severe criticism from around the world.

The Japanese Communist Party recently sent a delegation led by Ogata Yasuo, member of the House of Councilors, to Middle Eastern countries. The JCP delegation visited Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates to hold discussions with government officials.

The JCP delegation also held talks with international organizations of the Arabic and Islamic worlds, including the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

In all these talks, the JCP delegation and government officials of these countries were unanimous in opposing a war on Iraq and in calling for the Iraqi question to be resolved peacefully through political discussions. These sentiments were expressed with definite conviction.

In these talks, one government official told the JCP delegation that there is no Arab who is in favor of a war on Iraq. Another said that an attack on Iraq will mean opening the gates to hell on earth.

One thing that all these governments in the Middle East shared was the strong desire to see the Japanese government play its part in the peace-making process. They say that people in the Middle East feel close to Japan because it has never colonized the region, that the Japanese government has a unique role to play in resolving the problem, and that they want Japan to act to prevent war.

During my question time in the House of Representatives Plenary Session on October 22, I argued that the resolution of the present question must be sought after through political negotiations, not war, and asked you to state that Japan oppose an attack on Iraq. But I didn't get a clear answer, so let me repeat: Could you state clearly that you are opposed to a U.S. attack on Iraq?

Koizumi: As I said in answer to your question on October 22, the thing is that Iraq should show an earnest attitude that will convince the international community that attacks on Iraq are not necessary.

For this to happen, the task is for Iraq to act in compliance with U.S. Security Council resolutions.

The United Nations has adopted a number of resolutions. If Iraq accepts them immediately without condition, attacks on Iraq will be unnecessary.

Regarding this, Japan is currently working with the international community through the United Nations. We've told the United States that international cooperation is most important. The United States is making diplomatic efforts in the United Nations. I believe Japan should work hard to contribute to resolving the issue through diplomatic efforts without having to fight a war. This is my consistent position on this question.

Shii: You've correctly pointed out that Iraq must comply with the U.N. resolutions and eliminate its weapons of mass destruction.

In a meeting on October 13 with Iraq's National Assembly Speaker, Saadun Hammadi, the JCP delegation said that Iraq should not hide anything from the international community or deceive it; it should be honest in disclosing everything that is related to weapons of mass destruction.

In reply, the senior Iraqi official assured the JCP delegation that Iraq will unconditionally allow U.N. inspectors to go into all facilities and sites, including the eight presidential facilities.

If inspections are carried out as intended, the problem will be solved. Then, no one will need to call for war. The question now is why you cannot definitely express your opposition to a war.

Shii: U.S. President George W. Bush stated that if the United Nations cannot make a decision, the United States will lead its allies to disarm the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein for the sake of peace. This can be taken as a declaration that the United States will attack Iraq if necessary even without a U.N. decision to do so, clearly in violation of the U.N. Charter.

The U.N. Charter allows member countries to use force in international disputes only under a U.N. decision. Individual U.N. members are allowed to use force only in self-defense against external attacks. This is what the U.N. Charter clearly states, so preemptive attacks are in violation of the U.N. Charter.

I would like to ask Mr. Prime Minister to at least state clearly that unilateral military actions cannot be condoned unless such actions are authorized by the United Nations.

Koizumi: The United States maintains various options. However, I understand that the United States is trying to do everything it can to get the U.N. resolutions implemented. I do not believe that the U.S. is contemplating any war that would go against international cooperation and international law.

I don't think it is appropriate to foresee at this point what would happen if the U.S. violates international law. I understand that the United States and other U.N. member countries are making every effort to prevent U.N. authority from being undermined, and get Iraq to eliminate the danger of weapons of mass destruction without resorting to war. We need to strongly support their efforts. I also believe that the task now is for Japan to continue its diplomatic efforts.

Shii: The United States is repeatedly stating that it will launch massive military attacks (even without a U.N. decision). If the Prime Minister is unable to say "No" to this U.S. position, Japanese government independence must be called into question. (end)