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G8 leaders cast Tanabata wishes

by Reiji Yoshida

TOYAKO, Hokkaido — Everyone has hopes for the future, a reflection of their past experiences. The world leaders gathered for the Group of Eight summit are no exception — as evidenced by what they wrote on pieces of paper hung Monday from bamboo trees in the Japanese wish-making tradition of the July 7 Tanabata star festival.

U.S. President George W. Bush, who launched the Iraq war and is suffering historically low public support, is holding true to his political faith: His wish was for a world free from tyranny, according to a press release based on a tentative translation by the Foreign Ministry.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an earnest environmentalist trying to get the U.S. to set ambitious goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, may be hoping her fellow G8 leaders develop more tolerant hearts; her wish was that a bright star will shine over the summit and everyone will meet their responsibilities.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was thinking about the nightmare of July 7 three years ago. He wished for the eradication of poverty and an end to terrorism, noting on the paper that Monday fell on the third anniversary of terrorist attacks in London in 2005.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, chair of the summit and struggling to form a meaningful consensus on climate change, lived up to his general reputation that he is not a dramatic political star in any sense. He merely repeated his usual motto: learning from past wisdoms and creating new ones.