Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka obtained a provisional green light from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Sunday to make a trip next month to the United States before the prime minister’s planned bilateral summit with President George W. Bush in late June or early July.
Tanaka’s plan is being viewed as an attempt to demonstrate, both at home and abroad, Tokyo’s dedication to the Japan-U.S. security alliance.
It is also seen as an attempt to repair ties with the U.S. after she reportedly canceled a meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in Tokyo earlier this month, a faux pas she later blamed on exhaustion.
Tanaka, just back from spending three days in Beijing in her first overseas trip as foreign minister, has reportedly been angered by media reports that she has a pro-China and anti-U.S. stance.
“I told the prime minister of my wish to visit the U.S. at an early stage before the prime minister’s visit,” Tanaka told reporters after meeting Koizumi at his official residence.
Afterward, Koizumi told reporters he had authorized the visit and that Tanaka could make the trip “if the Diet schedule permits.”
Koizumi is reportedly planning to visit the U.S. sometime between June 29, when the ordinary Diet session ends, and early July to have his first face-to-face meeting with President Bush.
Tanaka is believed to be aiming for the middle of June so that she can meet her counterpart, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
It would be her first trip to the U.S. since she became foreign minister on April 26.
Tanaka would likely tell Powell that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the center of Japanese foreign policy and express readiness to seek further cooperation with the Bush administration, a government official said.
The minister also would tell Powell that Tokyo is ready to coordinate policies with Washington toward the Korean Peninsula and China.
In addition, Tanaka would stress the firm resolve of the Koizumi administration to implement structural reform of the Japanese economy.
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