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Japanese Defense Minister Criticizes US Decision to Invade Iraq


Japan's Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma has criticized U.S. President George Bush's decision to invade Iraq, and warned that Tokyo may not extend its air support mission to the country.

Speaking with reporters at the Japan Press Club Wednesday, Kyuma said Mr. Bush went to war on the presumption that there might be nuclear weapons. Kyuma said that decision was wrong.

Japan's defense minister has criticized the war in the past, but his comments come at a crucial time when the Bush administration is trying to rally support and turn the war in Iraq around by increasing troops.

Kyuma says Washington's decision to raise troop levels does not necessarily mean Japan will extend its air support mission in Iraq. Japan's mission expires in July.

The Japanese government spokesman Yasuhisa Shiozaki moved quickly to play down Kyuma's remarks, stressing that the defense minister was speaking as a politician.

Japanese officials also noted that Kyuma's remarks are nothing new as the United States has already admitted that weapons of mass destruction did not exist.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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