Japan eyes backing possible U.S. military intervention in Syria

The Japanese government is arranging for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to express support in the event the United States launches a military intervention against Syria, government sources said Saturday.

It is considering for Abe to do so by issuing a statement but is carefully examining U.S. intelligence offered to back Washington's allegation that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians in providing reasons for the Japanese stance, the sources said.

Tokyo will also offer additional aid for refugees whose number is expected to surge if the U.S. military conducts a strike against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"There is no option (for Japan) not to support it," one government source said. A senior official separately said, "We just have to get in line with the United States."

Abe's Cabinet ministers agreed at a meeting Friday that the issue of chemical weapons is also of concern to Japan as neighboring countries such as North Korea are suspected of possessing such weapons, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has said.

When the Iraq war began in March 2003, then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed support at an impromptu press conference, but a statement is being arranged this time for Abe as the United States is considering a limited strike, the sources said.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters at the White House on Friday that his administration was "looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act," to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons which Washington says killed at least 1,429 people, including 426 children.