- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2005

Baker’s advice

Ambassador Howard H. Baker Jr. yesterday urged Japan to repair its tense relations with China as he addressed a political forum in one of his final acts before retiring as the U.S. envoy in Tokyo.

“The real challenge for Japan, in my view, comes from how you arrange your relationship with China. Japan and China have a mutual responsibility, I think, to find ways to work together productively,” he told the audience at the headquarters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, according to Tokyo press reports.

He urged Japan to face the reality that China “is growing in economic and political interest.”

The relationship between the two Asian powers has grown tense since a Chinese submarine entered Japanese waters in November, and Japan drew up defense plans in December against Chinese aggression.

Mr. Baker, who plans to leave Japan next month, discussed U.S.-Japanese relations and praised Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in an article last week in Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

He noted that Mr. Koizumi and President Bush held three meetings last year in a sign of the importance Washington places on its friendship with Tokyo.

Mr. Baker praised Mr. Koizumi for his “particular brand of energy, decisiveness and imagination” and thanked the prime minister for his support of the United States in Iraq and in the war on terrorism.

“Prime Minister Koizumi has, through active foreign diplomacy, made Japan a powerful player on the world stage,” he said, adding that the United States supports Japan’s goal of a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

“The prime minister’s determination to contribute to the war on terrorism, including billions of dollars in reconstruction assistance for Iraq and Afghanistan, will help build peace in those lands,” Mr. Baker said.

He recalled that Mr. Koizumi’s decision to send troops to Iraq to help rebuild the country met strong domestic opposition, but he predicted “history will judge it to be the right choice.”

Mr. Baker, who has served in Tokyo since June 2001, will be replaced by Thomas Schieffer, ambassador to Australia.

Mr. Bush announced the nomination last week, after his inauguration to a second term as president. Mr. Schieffer, a former member of the Texas House of Representatives, was a business partner of Mr. Bush’s in the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Mr. Schieffer, whose brother is CBS News correspondent Bob Schieffer, has served in Australia since September 2001.

Coffee and Danish

It might sound like a stereotype, but the Danish Embassy is planning to serve Danish pastries to reporters next week in New York to promote the 200th anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen.

The legendary storyteller, considered the father of the modern fairy tale, will be the subject of a press conference with Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, who hope to raise interest in the author of “The Little Mermaid,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Princess and the Pea” and many other stories that have enchanted children and adults throughout the world.

The event is co-hosted by the New York Public Library, where the press conference begins at 10:30 a.m. next Tuesday, the embassy said yesterday.

As for the Danish pastry, well, the Danes did not invent it — just as the English did not invent the English muffin, nor the French, French fries. Most food writers note that Austrian chefs from Vienna first baked the pastry in Copenhagen in the 19th century.

The Danish call it Vienna bread, while Austrians call it Copenhagen bread. Americans call it Danish.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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