BOSTON – Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Monday he will urge U.S. President George W. Bush to make more diplomatic efforts in order to gain international support for a possible U.S. attack on Iraq.
Koizumi said the message he plans to convey to Bush when he meets him in New York on Thursday is that: “International cooperation and legitimacy are essential in any war.”
Koizumi was speaking to reporters aboard a Japanese government jet while en route from Tokyo to Boston for a five-day visit to the U.S. The prime minister arrived in Boston in the afternoon and was to leave for New York on Tuesday morning.
Among major U.S. allies, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has voiced clear support for U.S. plans to wage war on Iraq, but France and Germany are taking a more cautious stance.
Japan has urged the international community to persuade Iraq to allow U.N. inspectors to return to the country to check for weapons of mass destruction and avert a conflict.
Koizumi, who is scheduled to visit Pyongyang on Sept. 17 for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, also told reporters that he will tell Bush of his optimism that his landmark trip will help strengthen dialogue between North Korea and Japan.
“North Korea has come to think about the need for talks with Japan,” Koizumi said. “I’ll tell (Bush) that I believe it is important for Japan, South Korea and the U.S. to work closely to settle accumulating problems related to North Korea.
“I would like to hear the opinions of the U.S. side on the North Korean issue, hoping they will be helpful when I visit North Korea,” Koizumi said.
The U.S. and South Korea have welcomed Koizumi’s planned visit to North Korea.
On the Japanese economy, Koizumi said he will address recent problems, including plunging stock prices, and after returning home will draw up a plan to erase concerns about instability in the nation’s financial system.
Koizumi said he will draw up a clear policy “as soon as possible” aimed at reforming the financial system to make it more stable and speeding up the disposal of bad loans.
“The potential of the Japanese economy is still high,” he said.
But the credibility of financial institutions has been rocked and there is concern that stock prices will remain low, he said.
“My task is to find ways to get rid of such anxieties.”
“I want to accelerate discussion about the financial system and desirable tax reforms for the time being” in the hope that it can lead to antideflationary measures, Koizumi said.
After arriving in Boston, Koizumi visited Harvard University and attended a reception hosted by the university’s president, Lawrence Summers, a former U.S. Treasury secretary.
In another gathering, Vernon Alden, chairman of the Japan Society in Boston, voiced hope that Koizumi will have a long tenure as prime minister.
“The first Japan society in America was established here in Boston, in 1904 . . . I hope you return to us as prime minister” to celebrate the centennial anniversary, Alden said.
In the evening, Koizumi watched a professional football game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium near Boston.
During his stay in New York, Koizumi will attend a ceremony Wednesday marking the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon. He will deliver a speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Friday.
Koizumi at Harvard
BOSTON (Kyodo) Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Monday visited Harvard University and emphasized the importance of education to development.
“Education is essential for sustainable development and the future of the Earth,” the prime minister, speaking in English, told a gathering at Loeb House, a campus building formerly used as a residence by Harvard presidents.
The university’s current president, Lawrence Summers, introduced Koizumi as the first Japanese prime minister to visit the university and said, “The ties between Harvard and Japan have become even more strong.”
Koizumi later shook hands with some of the 200 people attending the reception.
Among the participants were Joseph Nye, dean of the Kennedy School of Government of the university, and Ezra Vogel, who wrote the book “Japan As No. 1” in 1979.
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