Koizumi's de facto rejection of a student's petition angers the public

Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro came under fire when he commented that teachers should teach students more about international politics in reaction to a high school student's petition calling on the prime minister to support Iraq's reconstruction by non-military means.

Imamura Ayumi, an 18-year-old high school student from Miyazaki, on February 2 visited the Cabinet Office and submitted about 5,300 signatures in support of her call on the prime minister to help Iraq reconstruct itself without using the military.

Asked by reporters to comment on the petition, Koizumi answered, "I haven't read it," adding, "Teachers should let students know about the Iraq situation so they can understand how complicated international politics is."

"SDF units will contribute to peace. Teachers need to talk about this before students. Not all people in this world are people of good will," Koizumi added.

Commenting on Koizumi's remark, Japan Senior High School Teachers and Staffs Union Chair Okada Ainosuke stated, "Prime Minister Koizumi should seriously listen to the student who cared about the Iraqi people and collected the signatures. Without reading her petition, he made such statement and slandered her. It is unforgivable."

Ohira Naoya, an NGO representative working in Iraq, who accompanied Imamura to the Cabinet Office said, "A Cabinet Office official assured us that the Constitution guarantees her right to petition and that exercising the right will not bring her any disadvantage. It's not fair for her to be hurt in such a way." (end)

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