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Japan's defense chief says U.S. should have been more cautious in starting Iraq war

Japan's defense chief says U.S. should have been more cautious in starting Iraq war

The United States should have been more cautious in deciding to invade Iraq, Japan's defense minister said Friday, backtracking on earlier comments in which he indicated he thought the decision was a mistake.
"I did not say it was a mistake, but I thought at the time (the U.S.) should have been more cautious," Defense Ministry Fumio Kyuma said Friday in response to a reporter's question after a Cabinet meeting.
Kyuma's comment Wednesday that U.S. President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq "based on an assumption that weapons of mass destruction existed was a mistake" was a rare criticism from Washington's closest Asian ally.
A staunch supporter of Washington, Japan backed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and sent ground troops to the country's south on a humanitarian mission, but the contingent was pulled out last year.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Thursday evening that Kyuma explained to him that the comments represented his thinking before the invasion, the Nihon Keizai business newspaper reported. Kyuma told him he did not dissent from the Cabinet decision to back the Iraq invasion, it said.
Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Kyuma also discussed the matter Friday morning to ensure they were in accord, the defense minister said.
Kyuma's remarks on Wednesday came hours after Bush implored the U.S. Congress in his annual State of the Union Address to back his unpopular plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq, saying it represents the best chance in a war America must not lose.
Despite Bush's plan to boost troop numbers, Japan will not hastily decide whether to continue to provide airlifts in support of U.S.-led forces in Iraq, Kyuma said Wednesday. The airlifts are set to end in July.


Updated : 2021-02-26 21:18 GMT+08:00