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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Koizumi pledges Japanese support
Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Mr Koizumi sees Ground Zero for himself
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has renewed his pledge of non-combat support to the United States at a meeting with President George W Bush.


We will fight terrorists with determination and patience

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
The meeting in Washington came a day after Mr Koizumi visited New York's 'Ground Zero' where the twin towers of the World Trade Centre once stood.

Mr Koizumi has made clear he will not undo constitutional restraints barring Japan from combat operations overseas.

But he told reporters after meeting President Bush that there were "many ways to co-operate".

He mentioned both diplomatic and medical assistance as possible options for Japan.

Logistical support

The Japanese Government is preparing new laws that will enable significant logistical support for the US military.

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Almost 50 Japanese nationals are still missing
"We will fight terrorism with determination and patience," he said.

For his part, President Bush sought to reassure Japan over its support for the US-led coalition against terrorism.

"100% of Japanese people ought to understand we are dealing with evil people," he said.

"We cannot fear terrorists," he added.

Wreckage

Almost 50 Japanese nationals are among the thousands still missing, two weeks after two passenger aircraft ploughed into the World Trade Center in New York.

On Tuesday, Mr Koizumi was clearly shaken as he surveyed the smouldering wreckage of the city's most famous landmark.

Okinawa military base
Japanese forces are not allowed to defend US bases in Japan
"I don't know what to say and I don't have words to describe it," he said.

"It's disastrous and terrible," he said.

The Japanese premier then met with New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, as well as United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Mr Koizumi said he would reiterate Japan's support in his meeting with the US president on Tuesday.

Dangerous places

Speaking later to Japanese reporters in Washington, he conceded his country's possible participation was not without risk.

"Until now, we have never sent the Self Defence Forces to dangerous places. Now, it's out of the question not to send the Self Defence Forces to dangerous places," Mr Koizumi said.

"There is no longer such a thing as a safe place. It is not safe even in Japan," he said.

Japanese newspapers reported that Tokyo will send two warships to the Indian Ocean to carry out intelligence and surveillance missions.

It has also taken steps to block the funding of extremist groups through its banking system.

Public support

The Japanese Government appears determined to avoid he humiliation it suffered during the Gulf War, when it contributed money but no troops and received little thanks from the participants.

According to the Reuters news agency, a poll in Japan has shown that 70% of the Japanese public favours logistical support for a US retaliation.

The country's main opposition party has also voiced support for the new legislation that would make this possible.

Japan's Deputy Foreign Minister, Seiken Sugiura, is expected to arrive in Pakistan on Tuesday to express Tokyo's support for Islamabad's pledge to assist Washington.

He is expected to meet Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday.


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19 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
18 Sep 01 | Business
19 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
13 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
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