Mark Shields did not get his facts straight before writing about Japan's Gulf efforts {"The Free-Lunch Countries," op-ed, Sept. 3}. Specifically, Mr. Shields erred when he said that the Japanese total contribution to the multinational forces and aid to neighboring countries amounted to barely $1 billion.

Let me clarify some facts here. Japan has decided to contribute $1 billion to extend logistical support to the United States and multinational forces to aid their efforts to restore peace in the Gulf; it has made a separate commitment to aid individual Middle Eastern countries. Japan's contribution to the multinational forces includes financial support for the U.S. sea and airlift, assistance in the procurement of equipment and the dispatch of medical teams. Japan is cooperating closely with the United States in the implementation of these measures so as to be able to quickly respond to the pressing needs of the multinational forces. President Bush and Secretary Baker appreciated Japan's willingness to share these responsibilities.

In addition to the above, Japan has decided to provide substantial amounts of economic assistance to countries hardest hit by this crisis (Jordan, Turkey, Egypt). The form and amount of assistance to these countries will be determined shortly, according to the needs of those countries as assessed by Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama during his recent visit, and in consultation with the United States and other parties concerned.

Japan shares the U.S. view that the Iraqi invasion and subsequent annexation of Kuwait is an impermissible act of violence and a flagrant violation of international law and the United Nations Charter. Japan stands alongside the United States in its refusal to accept any compromise in this position, which reflects the underlying principles of our nation.

Since the very outset of this crisis, Japan has repeatedly condemned Iraq and implemented its own harsh economic sanctions against that country before the action of the U.N. Security Council. Japan has also strongly condemned Iraq for the taking of Japanese, American, British and other foreign nationals as hostages.

I hope that thoughtful Americans who are concerned about the crisis realize that the mightiest weapon that we can wield against Saddam Hussein is international unity. I am convinced that such unity exists between the United States and Japan, and its strength results from our mutual understanding and cooperation.

HIDEAKI UEDA Counselor for Public Affairs Embassy of Japan Washington