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THE WEEK AHEAD

TOKYO : A Systemic Decision

February 09, 1993

U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali opens a five-day visit to Japan next Monday amid controversy generated by an interview in which he was quoted as saying that Japan should change its constitution, if needed, in order to contribute combat troops to a permanent U.N. military force he has proposed to intervene in regional conflicts.

In a second interview, Boutros-Ghali denied asking for a constitutional change while reiterating that he would seek more Japanese participation in U.N. activities, including possible "peace-enforcing" actions.

The issue touches a sensitive political chord here. Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa insists that the constitution prohibits Japan from using any force overseas, and he has tried to damp down talk of a change.

Japan has sent its first batch of 608 troops to Cambodia under a law passed last year permitting their use in noncombat activities as part of U.N.-sponsored peacekeeping operations.

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