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Japanese Defense Minister Vows to Continue Cooperation with US Anti-Terrorism Efforts

09 August 2007

Japan's Defense Minister Yuriko Koike says that Japan will continue to support U.S.-led efforts to fight terrorism in Asia.

During a meeting Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington, the two discussed Japan's support for U.S. operations in Afghanistan and other security issues.

The recent victory of Japan's opposition Democratic Party, which won control of the upper house of parliament, had raised questions about whether Japan will continue to support U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan.

The Japanese government says it supports the U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan, but a special law that allows Japan to provide naval and other support there expires in November.

Koike met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Wednesday. A Pentagon spokesman called the meeting a "strategic review of global, regional and bilateral interests."

Koike is Japan's first female defense minister. She took office following her predecessor's resignation. Fumio Kyuma sparked controversy by saying the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unavoidable.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer met with Japanese opposition leaders in Tokyo Wednesday to urge them to extend Japan's support for the campaign.

Democratic Party leader Ichiro Ozawa told Schieffer that his party will support United Nations efforts in Afghanistan, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, but not U.S.-led operations.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.

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