Japan is suspending economic sanctions against Pakistan and India, which had been imposed three years ago following both countries' nuclear tests. The Japanese government says the move reflects its appreciation for efforts by Islamabad and New Delhi to help the international coalition against terrorism.
While the Japanese government stopped short of unveiling new aid packages for India and Pakistan, government spokesman Yasuo Fukuda said Friday that Japan would consider what measures would help the two nations maintain economic and political stability.
Japan has already pledged $40 million in emergency aid to Pakistan for its decision to back the U.S.-led hunt for terrorists in neighboring Afghanistan. Tokyo is one of the United States' key allies in Asia and is pushing for greater involvement in the international anti-terror coalition.
In his announcement of the government's decision on the sanctions, Mr. Fukuda said that Pakistan and India had both adhered to unilateral moratoriums on nuclear testing.
However, he added that Tokyo could reinstate sanctions if the situation changed. Japan froze new loans and grants to the two rival countries after they both tested nuclear devices in May 1998.
Friday's move is considered controversial in Japan. Some legislators in the dominant Liberal Democratic Party oppose it. They believe it runs counter to the country's policy of encouraging nuclear non-proliferation.
Japan is the only country in the world that has suffered atomic bombings and the issue of non-proliferation is a priority in the country.