WASHINGTON – James Kelly, U.S. President George W. Bush’s choice of assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said Thursday he will urge Japan to liberalize its markets further while seeking to promote U.S. investment in the country.
At a Senate confirmation hearing, Kelly said that if his appointment is confirmed, he will work to achieve these goals by cooperating with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Treasury Department and White House economic advisers.
“I think there are some real opportunities for investment by American companies in Japan that have not been there in the past. And we’re dedicated to trying to make those real,” he said.
Kelly said the Japanese economy is “certainly very troubled.”
“Friends that have come to town to see me, old friends, are expressing a new seriousness over debt levels. But solving a huge and rich economy like Japan is not an easy task,” he said.
Kelly said the election of Junichiro Koizumi as prime minister reflects “the upheaval” going on within the Liberal Democratic Party.
The Senate later unanimously confirmed Kelly as assistant secretary of state.
On the dispute between Washington and Beijing over the return of a crippled U.S. Navy surveillance plane in Hainan Island, Kelly said it is not advisable to link its return with U.S. trade policy toward China.
“I think it would probably be a mistake to condition the continuing trade relationship only on the return of that airplane,” he said. , dismissing the argument that Washington should review its support for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.
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