WASHINGTON – The White House said Tuesday that President Bill Clinton will develop a close relationship with new Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, while Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers reminded Japan not to let up in its quest for economic growth.
“It has been traditional that presidents of the United States and prime ministers of Japan have developed very effective, close working relationships,” said Philip Crowley, press secretary for the National Security Council. “I’m sure that the president will look for ways to develop a close relationship with (Keizo Obuchi’s) successor.”
However, when asked about Mori, Crowley said he did not know whether Clinton had ever met him. or if Mori was known to his administration.
White House spokesman Gene Sperling expressed confidence that preparations for July’s Group of Eight summit in Okinawa would proceed smoothly despite Obuchi’s departure from office, as the entire Japanese government is “very focused on Okinawa being successful.”
Not missing a beat in his long-standing campaign for a more expansionary policy in Japan, Summers told reporters separately that Mori will come up against the exact same challenges that faced Obuchi, who now lies in a coma.
“What is crucial in Japan from an economic and finance standpoint is improvements to promote domestic demand-led growth, and those will be the crucial impetus of economics and finance going forward in Japan,” Summers said.
Mori’s Asian friends
BEIJING (Kyodo) Senior officials from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations led the Asian region in welcoming Wednesday’s election of Yoshiro Mori as prime minister.
Political analysts in the region said they do not expect any change in Japan’s policies toward Asia under the Mori Cabinet. Regional media reported extensively on Mori’s election and background.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin sent a letter congratulating Mori, saying he was “delighted” Mori had been elected to the post.
Jiang said: “I expect and believe that with your excellency’s efforts, China and Japan will be devoted to peace and to the development of a continuously growing friendly cooperative partnership.”
In Hong Kong, ASEAN Secretary General Rodolfo Severino said relations between the regional group and Japan will not be affected by the change.
“I don’t think ASEAN-Japan relations will change very much because relations have been going on for more than 20 years,” Severino said.
Speaking on Obuchi’s departure from politics, he said: “It is quite a loss because only very recently we put forward the Obuchi Plan for cooperation between Japan and ASEAN.”
The Obuchi Plan refers to a $500 million package aimed at increasing human resources development in East Asia and promoting exchanges between Japan and other countries in the region.
In Seoul, President Kim Dae Jung said Mori’s “excellent political career and leadership” would further develop Japan, adding that he expects ties between the countries to deepen through close cooperation.
Taiwan’s unofficial relations with Japan will remain close under Mori, a Taiwanese Cabinet member said Wednesday. Chiang Pin-kung, head of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, said he is confident that Mori will be friendly toward Taiwan and support even closer commercial relations.
Russia offers support
MOSCOW (Kyodo) Good relations between Japan and Russia will continue under the Cabinet of Yoshiro Mori, ITAR-Tass news agency reported Wednesday, quoting Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov.
Losyukov, who is in charge of Russian policy for the Asia-Pacific region, said: “We think that expectations (for positive developments in bilateral ties) have every reason to materialize, proceeding from the experience of the already existing relations with this prominent representative of the Japanese political elite.”
Mori is expected to meet Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin in Russia between April 28 and April 30 to discuss issues such as a bilateral peace treaty. , which the two nations hope to conclude this year.
EU wants recovery
BRUSSELS (Kyodo) The European Union’s support for Japan’s efforts to achieve economic recovery will continue following the formation of a new Japanese government Wednesday, a European Commission spokesman said.
Commission Spokesman Jonathan Faull told Kyodo News the EU also hopes good overall bilateral relations with Japan will continue.