TOKYO -- Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu called parliament together seven days early today to consider proposals for supporting the U.S.-led war to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.
Both houses of the Diet, Japan's parliament, were to hear an emergency address from the prime minister and then to begin debate on his proposals.
Striving to avoid the widespread criticism of the indecision that prevailed here for months after Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait, Japan activated crisis teams in its Cabinet and Foreign Ministry yesterday.
Mr. Kaifu heads the Cabinet's task force and, within hours after the war began, announced plans to give "firm support" to the gulf effort.
But yesterday, the war's first day in Tokyo, he touched off new controversy by suggesting that Japan might send military transport planes to help evacuate tens of thousands of Asian contract workers who may want to leave the war zone and to assist in refugee operations.
Within hours, Takako Doi, head of the Japan Socialist Party, the largest opposition group, went to the prime minister's official residence to say there was no legal basis for such a plan.