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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #254: October 8, 2004

Japan: Report that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction does not undermine case for war

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Japan: Report that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction does not undermine case for war"


The Duelfer report saying there was no WMD in Iraq was released just a month before the Presidential election, and has sent out ripples, if not waves, among the voters in the US. Perhaps rightly so, especially if how the US got into this in the first place is recalled.

People at the time had been told that Saddam Hussein was piling up the weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and that the safety of the people in the "free" world would be exposed to severe danger if his evil ambition were not crushed. The US, although having made a posture at first to persuade the UN to start military sanction against Iraq, quickly became impatient in the consensus building process and went on to attack Iraq on its own while inviting its allies to join, to save some of the US's cost - and lives, and in the hope to dilute the unjustifiable act under the UN Charter of initiating a military action without the consent of the UN Security Council.

Thus, if there was no WMD, there was no legitimate reason for the US to initiate the war against Iraq. Whether the non-existence of WMD was intentionally neglected - for what? - or that the correct information was not conveyed or collected by the intelligence, the administration in charge, lead by the President, must bear the responsibility.

Having said that, the fact that Iraq kept ignoring the decisions and requirements imposed by UN resolutions should not be ignored, either. Iraq, as a member of the UN, had agreed to obey and follow the rules and regulations of the UN when it acceded to the UN in December 1945, 11 years before Japan was accepted membership. Since after the first war in 1991, the UN Security Council issued 17 resolutions calling upon Iraq to report on its suspected WMD developments, but Iraq ignored them all. It ignored the virtual ultimatum, the Resolution 1441 of the Security Council in November 2002.

In March 2003, the issue of whether to initiate military sanctions in the name of the UN against Iraq was discussed at the Security Council, but with frustration on the dragging pace of the discussions, the US, and the UK, attacked Iraq. Then in May 2003, despite the difference in views among members on the legitimacy of the attack already made, the UN Security Council, unanimously agreed and issued Resolution 1483 which asks all of the UN member countries to support reconstruction of Iraq.

This Resolution 1483 was what Japan resorted to in sending its Self Defense Force - as the land was considered too dangerous for untrained genuine civilians - acting in support of the UN in its declaration to support rebuilding Iraq.

Accordingly, the Duelfer report does not necessarily change the position of the Japanese government in its logic to have the SDF in Iraq. There is naturally a political implication for Japan's SDF being there, by which Japan would be considered to support the position of the US, to an extent inevitable in any case as the US is the only country Japan has bilateral treaty with in terms of national security. But Japan's SDF is, by definition, not prepared to fire its guns except to protect their own lives, and that is why Japan's SDF in Iraq is guarded by the Dutch troops stationed there. (There were big debates in Japan before sending the SDF to Iraq on such matters as whether the SDF personnel could use their guns to protect the locally hired people working with them when attacked.)

Majority of the people in Japan would probably not oppose to calling back the SDF stationed in Iraq. It would save tax-money, and certainly satisfy those who has been ardently against sending SDF to Iraq, for whatever reasoning or ambition. But it would also mean that the Iraqi people would be losing the expertise, material, and diligent managers in rebuilding and reconstructing their infrastructure, if only the effort has been marginal at best, in the massive task of rebuilding the nation, destroyed by the war which most of the ordinary people in Iraq had no say in the cause or the righteousness of.

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