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Abe signals support for U.S. missile strike in Syria

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that Japan
"supports the resolve" of the United States not to allow the
proliferation or use of chemical weapons, following a U.S. missile
strike on a Syrian air base from which a deadly poison attack was
allegedly launched earlier this week.

"We understand that the action taken by the United States was a
measure to prevent the situation from worsening further," Abe told
reporters after a meeting of the National Security Council.
Abe's remarks came after U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled
the U.S. military action in Syria and called on "all civilized
nations" to join the United States to end the "slaughter and
bloodshed" in the Middle Eastern country as well as all forms of
terrorism.

Trump said the strike was in response to a chemical attack in
Syria on Tuesday that killed Syrian civilians, for which he said
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime was responsible.

Abe also recognized Tuesday's "extremely inhumane" attack as a
chemical weapons attack, saying "ordinary innocent people have again
become the victims of chemical weapons in Syria."

In an apparent mention of North Korea's efforts to develop
nuclear arms, Abe also said Japan "highly appreciates" the Trump
administration's commitment to maintaining global order and working
with its allies at a time when "the threat from weapons of mass
destruction is also growing more serious in East Asia."

"Japan will coordinate with the United States and the rest of
the international community and properly play the role it should play
for the peace and stability of the world," he said.

Earlier Friday, a source close to the Defense Ministry called
the scale of the strike, which the U.S. Defense Department said
involved 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, "a heavy truth."

"While we don't know if the United States will ask the
Self-Defense Forces to perform some kind of role, we need to pay
serious attention to the situation," the source said.

The Japanese government's top spokesman refrained Friday from
revealing whether or not the United States had informed its ally
Japan of the strike in advance.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also dismissed
suggestions that the U.S. action might affect peace treaty
negotiations between Japan and Russia, which backs Assad's regime.

"We don't think it will have any direct influence on the
bilateral issue of the peace treaty negotiations," Suga told a press
conference.

Abe is set to visit Russia in April in an effort to make
progress on the treaty, delayed for decades by a row over the
sovereignty of a chain of Russian-held islands off Hokkaido that the
Soviet Union seized after World War II.