Japan agreed today to go along with nine European countries in pressing Iran for a commitment to release the American hostages in Tehran.
The Foreign Ministry announced that it would follow the European Community's lead and bring home its ambassador to Iran temporarily for a review of Iran's response.
It was Japan's first public step toward applying pressure on Iran and was taken only after the European Community nations acted yesterday in Lisbon.
U.S. officials appeared pleased with the move. One said it was regarded "as an expression of Japanese solidarity in this effort."
The Japanese have been reluctant to take any action that might irritate Iran because they fear it could lead to a cutoff of Iranian oil supplies. Japan gets 10 percent of its oil from Iran.
Today the government expressed its irritation at news reports in the United States that said Japan would do nothing about the American requests for fear of losing oil supplies.
Foreign Minister Saburo Okita called those reports "completely erroneous" and said he regarded them as "disturbing." He said all of the American requests are "still under consideration" and will be discussed at a third Cabinet meeting on Monday.
Two major national newspapers, Asahi and Yomiuri, carried unusually pointed editorials today urging the government to accept American displeasure and refuse to join in sanctions or diplomatic pressures.
The editorials were unusual in that both newspapers are usually pro-American and in cases of U.S.-Japanese conflicts over trade and defense matters they often urge the government to reach an accommodation.