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Friday, Nov. 10, 2006

Aso should be axed for nuke comments: opposition


Staff writer

The Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party of Japan and the People's New Party sent a letter to the prime minister Thursday demanding that Foreign Minister Taro Aso be dismissed for saying Japan must debate whether to go nuclear.

The written request, given to Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hakubun Shimomura, demanded that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe immediately discharge Abe for statements they said "counter national policy." They asked the prime minister to respond by Nov. 17.

Since North Korea's nuclear test in early October, both Aso and Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Shoichi Nakagawa have said several times that Japan should debate whether to develop nuclear weapons.

The international community, including the United States and other parts of Asia, are starting to doubt Japan's nonnuclear stance because of the remarks by Aso and Nakagawa, the opposition camp said in their written statement.

"Aso is the foreign minister, the top of diplomacy, and has the strongest international influence," DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama told reporters. "'And (his statements) cannot be overlooked.

"Japan is a country that has three nonnuclear principles as its national policy and should take the lead in the effort to eliminate nuclear weapons," Hatoyama said, adding that in the past, government officials have resigned or have been dismissed for raising the issue of whether Japan should go nuclear.

While the two lawmakers have been calling for debate, Abe has stood firm that Japan will stand by its three nonnuclear principles of not developing, possessing or allowing into the country nuclear arms.

But during a question-and-answer session in the Diet Wednesday with DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa, Abe defended the two lawmakers, saying that prohibiting any discussion on nuclear weapons was going too far.



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The Japan Times

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