Tanaka hits Koizumi’s policies for being U.S.-centered

Former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka on Friday criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for taking domestic and foreign policies “in the wrong direction” and putting the government in the shadow of the United States.

“Japan should not simply follow blindly in the footsteps of the United States,” Tanaka told a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. “The Cabinet is receding . . . but does not realize its mistake.”

Tanaka, who was fired by Koizumi from the post of foreign minister in January 2002 and is now an independent member of the House of Representatives, said she bears no personal grudge against the prime minister but argued that Japanese politics needs a change.

“I will do everything I can to bring about an overhaul of the political structure,” she said.

Tanaka also said Tokyo needs to speak out on issues involving the Japan-U.S. alliance before it can think about revising the Constitution and obtaining a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party is keen on revising the Constitution, but changing war-renouncing Article 9 is a contentious issue.

Remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, that Japan should revise its Constitution in order to join the Security Council have fueled concerns that it will be amended due to pressure from Washington.

On Iraq’s reconstruction, Tanaka said U.S. forces and Japanese troops should withdraw from the war-torn country to make way for “real humanitarian support” by nongovernmental organizations under the leadership of the U.N.