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Japanese PM Refuses To Sack FM Over Nuclear Call

It's all smiles for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) and Foreign Minister taro Aso. Photo courtesy of Yoshikazu Tsuno and AFP.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 9, 2006
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday refused opposition demands that he fire his foreign minister over his calls for a debate on going nuclear in response to North Korea. Leaders of the four opposition parties had jointly called on Abe to sack Foreign Minister Taro Aso for his remarks on the nuclear option, a longtime taboo in the only country to have been attacked by atomic bombs.

Abe has repeatedly said he would not consider developing nuclear weapons, but the opposition alleged he was effectively suggesting the idea by proxy through his aides.

Abe, asked later by reporters if he felt he should dismiss the outspoken foreign minister, said: "I don't."

Abe said both he and Aso supported Japan's 1967 "three principles" of refusing the possession, production and presence of nuclear weapons on its soil.

"As I have told you all along, we are in agreement on the idea that we will firmly maintain the three non-nuclear principles. So I don't see any problem," Abe said.

Aso and Shoichi Nakagawa, a top policy aide to the premier, have both called for a frank debate on going nuclear in light of communist neighbor North Korea, which tested an atom bomb on October 9.

But both have stopped short of openly calling for the development of nuclear weapons.

The four opposition parties, in a joint statement delivered to Abe's office, said that dismissing Aso would "make clear your true intentions." The opposition told Abe to reply by Monday and threatened to disrupt parliament over the issue.

"The reply to the demand could affect parliamentary affairs," said Yukio Hatayama, the general secretary of the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

Japan's opposition has been struggling to gain strength after years in the wilderness during the tenure of Abe's popular predecessor Junichiro Koizumi.

Abe, Japan's youngest prime minister since World War II, took office in late September pledging a conservative agenda after a race in which he defeated Aso.

Abe enjoys high popularity ratings, in part due to his unflinching criticism of North Korea.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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India To Test Longer Range Ballistic Missile In 2007
New Delhi (AFP) Nov 9, 2006
India's longest-range ballistic missile, which proved to be a dud after a test-flight in July, will be re-tested next year, the country's chief military scientist announced Thursday. M. Natarajan, head of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said the 3,500-kilometre range (2,710-mile) Agni-III (Fire) missile would not be scrapped because of the flop.







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