Japan's opposition stepped up its campaign to delay a bill enabling the dispatch of troops to Iraq yesterday, submitting a no-confidence motion in the Cabinet and insisting it was prepared to force a general election. \nThe government pledged it would pass the bill before the current parliamentary session ends on Monday and failure to do so would mean a huge loss of face for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, possibly forcing him to call a snap general election -- something analysts doubt the opposition is prepared to risk. \n"We will definitely pass the bill in this parliamentary session," said Taku Yamasaki, secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which dominates the ruling coalition. \nKoizumi is determined to keep his promise to the US to send troops to Iraq despite the fact that a recent poll showed more than half of Japanese voters oppose the move. \nUnnerved by mounting US casualties in Iraq, many Japanese are reluctant to see their troops -- who have not fired weapons in combat since the end of World War II -- in danger. \nThe bill has been approved by the more powerful Lower House, but must also pass the upper chamber before being enacted. \nSerious stalling began on Thursday, when some opposition members resorted to the "ox walk" tactic, stepping slowly toward the dais where they cast their ballots on a string of censure motions against Cabinet members in parliament's Upper House. \nOne opposition member even patted his pockets in an apparent pantomime of having lost his ballot, helping to delay the end of parliamentary business for the day until after midnight. \nThe maneuvres continued on Friday, with a no-confidence motion against Koizumi's Cabinet submitted to the Lower House. The motion is certain to fail because the ruling coalition has a majority in both houses. \n"We are going to spend the day doing our best to make sure the Iraq bill fails," Yoshihiko Noda, an executive with the main opposition Democratic Party, told a news conference. \nAsked if his party was ready for an election should the bill fail to pass, Noda said: "That's precisely what we want." \nThe Democrats agreed earlier this week to merge with a smaller opposition group ahead of an election many expect in November, but analysts say the two groups are not yet prepared for a campaign. \nRuling politicians also dismissed the opposition tactics as pure performance. \n"If the opposition parties were really serious, they would have submitted no-confidence and censure motions against every member of the Cabinet," said LDP lawmaker Taro Kono in an e-mail message. "The fact they haven't gone that far means they are faking."
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Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
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