• Kyodo


Opposition Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa said Sunday Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka was indiscreet if recent reports are true that she questioned the United States’ plan for a missile defense system in official international meetings at which the U.S. was not present.

Speaking at a news conference in Yamagata, Ozawa said Tanaka should have spoken “directly to persons involved” in the U.S. if she has reservations about the missile defense plan.

“Foreign ministers should know the magnitude of their roles in making remarks,” he said.

Tanaka reportedly voiced concerns about Washington’s missile defense policy during separate meetings with Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, and German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. However, on Saturday Tanaka released a statement calling media reports of her comments “erroneous” and specifically saying she did not make the comment to the Italian foreign minister as reported.

Ozawa labeled as “strange” the contradiction between Tanaka’s reported remarks and Japan’s official stance, delivered by Tanaka only Friday, that Japan “understands” the U.S.’ consideration of the missile defense plan.

“She should talk with the prime minister to confirm the Cabinet’s policy. Diplomatic topics are not neighbors’ gossip. She should restrain herself from citing any personal opinions,” he added.

Tanaka announced Japan’s official position Friday to the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

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