• Staff report


Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Thursday he hopes to further develop Japanese-U.S. ties through his close personal relationship with President George W. Bush, who was re-elected in a neck and neck race with Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry.

“I’d like to respect the results of (the choice made by) the American citizens,” Koizumi told reporters Thursday morning at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, hours after Bush made his victory speech.

“Treasuring the confidence and friendship that I’ve built up with President Bush, I’d like to develop the Japan-U.S. relationship further,” he said.

Koizumi has developed a close personal relationship with Bush since both took office in 2001. Prior to the election, he threw his weight behind the Republican incumbent.

When asked about Kerry’s attempts to gain voter support by criticizing Bush’s handling of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, which the Japanese government has staunchly supported, Koizumi responded, “I didn’t think (U.S.) policies on Iraq would change even if Kerry was elected president.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda meanwhile said he expects the Bush administration, in its second term, will step up efforts to resolve the twin deficits in its fiscal budget and current account, noting they have become a factor of instability for both the U.S. and global economies.

“We understand that the Bush administration has clearly made such pledges as slashing the fiscal deficit by half in five years . . . and we look forward to seeing such efforts,” the top government spokesman told a regular news conference.

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