• Kyodo News


Ruling bloc and opposition lawmakers toed their parties’ lines Wednesday responding to the first meeting between Prime Minister Taro Aso and U.S. President Barack Obama, in which the two leaders agreed to strengthen the bilateral alliance and do their utmost to spur a global economic recovery.

“The (top-level meeting) was of great significance,” Hiroyuki Hosoda, secretary general of Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party, told reporters in Tokyo. “We know now that President Obama is amply aware” of the need to resolve major issues, such as North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the abductions.

“The United States and Japan will take on globally challenging issues” under a reinforced Japan-U.S. alliance, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said.

In contrast, Ichiro Ozawa, head of the Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition force, was less sanguine, saying the talks “lacked substance.”

Referring to Aso’s declining support rates, Ozawa said, “It is impossible for a leader who is losing public trust to promote effective diplomatic negotiations.”

On Tuesday, Aso, the first state leader to meet the 44th president at the White House, agreed with Obama on the need to fight protectionism and maintain confidence in the dollar as a key global currency.

From the ruling bloc, LDP Diet affairs chief, Tadamori Oshima, said, “The two leaders were able to discuss various problems candidly,” adding that he hopes Japan and the United States will demonstrate leadership at the upcoming financial summit in London in April.

On the other side of the political divide, Social Democratic Party chief Mizuho Fukushima said, “It is very dangerous to blindly follow a misguided U.S. strategy under the name of war on terror,” a reference to U.S. expectations of Japan’s contribution to its efforts in Afghanistan.

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