• Kyodo

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Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka paid her respects at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday and was expected to visit her alma mater ahead of meetings with top U.S. officials Monday.

Tanaka presented a wreath of white chrysanthemums and red carnations arranged in the motif of the Japanese national flag during a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

Tanaka placed the wreath, which was about 1 meter in diameter, at the tomb with the help of a U.S. soldier. She then placed her right hand over her heart during a bugler’s performance.

Tanaka had said shortly before her U.S. trip that she would offer the flowers as a gesture of hope that there be no further victims of war.

Tanaka arrived earlier Saturday in Washington, where she is to meet separately with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick on Monday.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is for unidentified war dead from World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The foreign minister was also to make a day trip to Philadelphia on Sunday to visit the high school she graduated from in 1963 and to meet with her former classmates. Prior to the meeting, Tanaka was scheduled to visit a museum in the city to have lunch with its director, who is a friend.

It is believed that besides Tanaka’s personal reasons for the meetings, she is hoping to impress on Americans that she is pro-U.S. and has friendly ties with people here.

Critics say she has created the impression that she favors China over the U.S. with remarks attributed to her about the U.S. missile defense plan and former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui.

Japan’s official position on the missile defense plan is that it “understands” the U.S. initiative. — a position confirmed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Defense Agency Director General Gen Nakatani.

Tanaka is expected to reaffirm Japan’s position and the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance. She is scheduled to hold a news conference following her meeting with Powell.

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