Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Friday confirmed with Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka and Defense Agency chief Gen Nakatani that Japan’s basic position of “understanding” U.S. missile defense plans remains unchanged, government officials said.
The confirmation comes amid a furor sparked by reports that Tanaka had made comments inconsistent with the government’s position in a series of bilateral talks.
“I stated my opinions on diplomacy and security, and the prime minister gave me advice,” Tanaka told reporters after the meeting.
Friday’s talks were aimed at clarifying Japan’s position ahead of Koizumi’s first meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush on June 30, as well as the June 22 meeting by the two countries’ defense chiefs.
Tanaka caused a storm recently by reportedly voicing doubts about the U.S. missile defense scheme in separate meetings with foreign ministers from Australia, Italy and Germany.
She also reportedly said Japan needs to become more independent from its decades-old security alliance with the United States — remarks that are inconsistent with Koizumi’s policy of strengthening the alliance.
In Friday’s meeting, Koizumi and the ministers reconfirmed that Japan welcomes Bush’s announcement that he will cut nuclear weapons and that Japan shares the U.S. view that the proliferation of ballistic missiles is a serious threat, government officials said.
They also reconfirmed that Japan will continue joint technical research with the U.S. on a theater missile defense system aimed at defending U.S. troops and allies, and that Japan hopes the U.S. missile defense policy will contribute to the international security environment, the officials said.
Koizumi and the ministers are expected to meet again Monday to discuss a proposal to look into the lifting of Japan’s self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective defense, as well as policy regarding North Korea, following Bush’s announcement that talks between Washington and Pyongyang on security issues will recommence.
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