Wednesday, September 27, 2006

U.S. Anticipates Close Ties With Abe Government

The U.S. government hopes to continue to cooperate closely with Japan over terrorism and other issues after the inauguration of the new Japanese government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. After Abe took office, a senior White House official said, "The close relation with Japan will continue," adding, "Japan's role in the global war on terror is increasing." The official also said that Abe will be a "good force" for the Asian region, indicating hopes that the new government will quickly mend Japan's strained ties with other Asian countries such as China and South Korea due to Koizumi's repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine.The shrine, which honors the war dead, including executed war criminals, is regarded by Japan's Asian neighbors as a symbol of the country's past militarism. Christopher Hill, assistant U.S. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, expressed his high expectations of collaborating with the Abe government in dealing with North Korea. "We have been working closely with Mr. Abe and we look forward to working with the new government," he said. Hill is the top U.S. representative in six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear development that involve the United States, Japan, North and South Korea, China and Russia.Abe retained Taro Aso, who was foreign minister under the government of Junichiro Koizumi, Abe's predecessor, in the same post in his own cabinet. Hill said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is "delighted "to hear the reappointment of Aso. Meanwhile, U.S. media voiced concern that Japan's ties with other Asian countries will remain touchy because of what they see as a hawkish stance of Abe on issues related to the wartime Japan. "Mr Abe has gone further than Mr Koizumi in glossing over the past," the Washington Post said.