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(Provisional Translation)

Comment by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda

December 14, 2003

Today at around 8 p.m. (JST), Mr. Tsukasa Uemura, Japan's Charge D'Affaires in Iraq received a communication from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad that a person thought to be former President Saddam Hussein had been captured.

If this is confirmed to be true, it will be a piece of wonderful news that will represent a great step towards victory for the international community, which has endeavored for the liberation of Iraq and its subsequent stabilization and reconstruction. I would like to take this opportunity to renew my high praise for the courage and endurance of the allied forces in Iraq, including the United States and United Kingdom, which have striven towards public security and stability in Iraq.

Although it is too optimistic to expect that the capture of former President Hussein mean an immediate end of terrorism repeatedly committed by remnants of the Hussein administration and other foreign terrorists inside and outside Iraq, there is no mistaking that this capture is a significant advancement.

Given this opportunity it is now crucial for the international community to cooperatively work to accelerate Iraq's reconstruction and stabilization, and provide a roadmap to ensure the transition to free and democratic government by the people of Iraq.

As a responsible member of the international community, Japan is seeking to make a contribution to the reconstruction of Iraq, especially in the area of humanitarian reconstruction.