Tags: Bush | Arrives | Tokyo

Bush Arrives In Tokyo

Sunday, 17 February 2002 12:00 AM

"The message from me to my friend will be a consistent message, and that is that the Japanese economy must restructure, and must deal with her loans, her bad loans," Bush told Asian reporters Friday.

On the yen, Bush said he was willing to let the market determine its value if that was the price of Japan struggling back on its economic feet. Three weeks ago in Tokyo, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill warned Japan against relying on a devalued currency to regain its competitiveness.

"In terms of setting currency, the marketplace must do that," Bush said. "Once the reform process takes place, then obviously they need to think about monetary policy as well, to ... deal with their pricing situation."

President and Mrs. Bush arrived at Haneda Airport in a drizzling rain Sunday and joined U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker, the former Senate Majority Leader, and his wife, Nancy Kassebaum Baker, who also served in the Senate before their marriage several years ago.

Tokyo, as it always does, presents the visitor with a stark contrast: a nation in a 10-year economic slump and a capital city awash with wealth and sophistication.

Even on a Sunday evening hotels and restaurants were crowded and well-dressed throngs filled the streets around the U.S. Embassy and the brassy Akasaka area.

Economists said Japan's enormous cash reserves in the saving accounts of millions of Japanese workers have allowed the banks to soften the continued economic downturn.

But many U.S. economists believe that buffer is running out. Deflation is looming in this, the world's second largest economy, and in order to avoid it, several U.S. government analysts have said in Capitol Hill testimony, the government will have to create inflation. A weaker yen will make Japanese exports to the U.S. more attractive.

Bush begins meetings with Koizumi Monday. The two main subjects will be the economy and the Kyoto Protocol, which Kozumi still favors. Last Thursday, President Bush issued his own plan to reduce greenhouse gases, byproducts of power generation that many scientists believe cause global warming.

Bush maintains that the tough reductions called for in the Kyoto Protocol will cost millions of jobs in U.S. industry.

This is Bush's first trip to Tokyo as president and he is following a path trod by President Ronald Reagan with a visit Monday to the Meiji Shrine and an address to the Diet, Japan's national legislative body. The president is accompanied by Secretary of State Colin Powell and his key White House aides.

On Saturday, on the first leg of the extended Asian tour, Bush again hinted that the United States will not rule out military action against nations that develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Before a cheering audience in a aircraft hanger at Elmendorf Air Force Base, the president delivered a warning now familiar since his State of the Union address. If nations developing weapons of mass destruction "don't change their ways ... the United States will do what it takes to defend our freedom."

The president never mentioned Iraq, Iran or North Korea. But the actions he described mirrored the activities that he has accused nations in an "axis of evil" of taking. The president said that the greatest danger is if the terrorists in the world can "hook up" with these weapon-producing nations.

The United States has already used several options in the case of Iraq, from sanctions to diplomatic pressure. In the past several weeks Washington has been rife with rumors that the United States is considering doing more, including some form of military action against Iraq.

The White House published the transcript of a "roundtable" interview Bush conducted Friday with Asian news reporters in which Bush was asked if his "axis of evil" remark suggested military action against North Korea.

The president said he fully supported South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's reunification effort, but he felt it is a moral duty not to disguise the dangers of North Korea's weapons program and the differences between the two countries. He did not rule out military action.

The president stopped in Anchorage on a snowy afternoon to deliver an address at the major U.S. air defense base and to attend a fund-raising event for the Alaska Republican Party. Later Saturday, he was to continue on to Japan, South Korea and China.

His address, to a crowd filled with military personnel and their families, was vintage Bush rhetoric. He praised the response of the military after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the speed with which it won the "first phase" of the war, defeating the Taliban, but he warned the audience that tough issues lay ahead.

He said the terrorist had taken the United States for granted, assuming it would not retaliate nor stay the course.

"We're patient, we're determined, we're a steadfast nation in our resolve," Bush said. The president again stressed that the target was not solely Osama bin Laden, but the network of terrorists, wherever they may be.

"We're going to run 'em down, one by one," he told the audience. "There is no calendar, there is no deadline."

The president used his address to push his budget and the $48 billion in increased defense spending, telling the crowd that the military deserves another raise. His 2003 budget calls for a 4.5 percent pay increase for the armed forces.

The president got perhaps his most intense applause when he urged Congress to pass his energy package, which includes a plan to search for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Drilling in the refuge would mean thousands of new jobs for Alaska.

The president was slated to visit Asia last fall, but the trip was postponed after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11.

All three nations on this trip have supported the United States in its war on terrorism in different ways, and Japan has pledged involvement in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

On Saturday night, Japan time, Japan's NHK network aired a lengthy interview with Bush in which he promised to consult with Japan, South Korea and China if the United States should take unspecified action against Iraq. Our "first choice," he said, "is no military action."

Bush also said in the interview: "A strong Japanese economy is in our nation's interest. It is in America's interest."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The message from me to my friend will be a consistent message, and that is that the Japanese economy must restructure, and must deal with her loans, her bad loans, Bush told Asian reporters Friday. On the yen, Bush said he was willing to let the market determine its...
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Sunday, 17 February 2002 12:00 AM
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