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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 06:49 GMT 07:49 UK
Japanese PM bolsters Washington
Junichiro Koizumi
Koizumi left Tokyo on Monday bound for New York
By BBC Tokyo correspondent Charles Scanlon

The Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has left for the United States to pledge support in person for the fight against terrorism.

He will first stop over in New York to visit the site of the World Trade Center, where at least 22 Japanese were among the thousands who lost their lives.


The division between a combat and support role could easily become blurred

He will hold talks with President Bush in Washington on Tuesday.

Mr Koizumi's visit comes in response to fears that Japan was being left on the sidelines of the international response.

The Japanese Government is still haunted by memories of the Gulf war when it contributed only money and received little thanks.

Mr Koizumi intends to give his full backing to President Bush, and will outline his plan to support the United States against terrorism.

Back-up

The plan includes logistical back-up and supplies for the American fleet, medical help and emergency economic aid for Pakistan.

Reports say that Japanese warships could be sent to the Indian ocean this week to help with surveillance and intelligence gathering.

For the first time on Friday, the Japanese navy helped escort the American aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk out of its home port near Tokyo.

Koizumi making a condolence speech
Koizumi gives a condolence speech
That provoked some criticism as a violation of the constitution which bans the use of force as a means of settling international disputes.

Some opposition politicians are urging the government to steer clear of the coming hostilities, where the division between a combat and support role could easily become blurred.

But later this week, Mr Koizumi is expected to introduce new laws and amendments to parliament that will greatly expand the field of operations for the Japanese military.

It is currently restricted to a purely defensive role in and around the home islands.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Emil Petrie
"Thirty Japanese citizens are thought to have died in the attacks"
See also:

18 Sep 01 | Business
Japan joins economic support drive
19 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Asian casualties mount in New York
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