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Japan Will Not Give in to Terrorism, says Koizumi - 2003-11-30

Japan's prime minister has vowed not to give in to terrorism, after two Japanese diplomats were killed in an attack in Iraq. It is the first time Japan has suffered casualties in Iraq since the start of the U.S.-led war there.

Reacting to the deaths, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Sunday that Japan will not change its Iraq policy and will not give in to terrorism.

The two diplomats were killed Saturday when their car was attacked near Tikrit, about 150 kilometers north of Baghdad. The driver of the car, who was not Japanese, was seriously wounded.

The dead men were Masamori Inoue, 30, a third secretary from the Japanese Embassy in Baghdad; and Katsuhiko Oku, 45, a counselor from the Japanese embassy in London.

Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi calls the shootings unforgivable. Ms. Kawaguchi says the killings will not cause Japan to waver from its effort to actively aid Iraq's reconstruction and to continue to fight terrorists.

The two killed were among 11 Japanese diplomats traveling to Tikrit for a conference on reconstruction work in northern Iraq.

The foreign ministry says it will increase it already tight security at its Baghdad embassy, as well as provide additional protection for Japanese in Iraq, who are mostly journalists. Ms. Kawaguchi says Japan is not considering scaling back its diplomatic force in the country.

The deaths of the Japanese took place on the same day seven Spanish intelligence agents were killed south of Baghdad when their unmarked vehicle was attacked.

Statements purported to be from members of the al-Qaida terrorist network recently warned that Japanese people would be targeted if Japan sends troops to Iraq.

Japan is considering sending members of its self-defense forces to Iraq to take part in the U-S led reconstruction effort. However, the issue is controversial, in part because of the security risks in Iraq, but also because Japan's pacifist constitution places limits on the use of its troops in conflict.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi said the government will monitor the situation in Iraq closely before sending troops.

Japan's parliament conditionally approved sending ground troops in July. The legislation restricts their presence to "non-combat areas."

Japanese troops have not entered a country where hostilities are under way since World War II.