- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 15, 2002

U.S.-Japanese relations will be jeopardized if Japan goes ahead with proposed economic aid to North Korea, a senior Japanese politician said after meetings in Washington with leading Bush administration officials.
Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara told Japanese reporters that U.S. officials had reacted unhappily to a recent visit to North Korea by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Japanese reacted enthusiastically to the visit, in which Mr. Koizumi promised to discuss financial aid to North Korea after the Koreans confessed to having kidnapped several Japanese citizens in the 1970s.
But the reaction to the visit "was 180 degrees different [in Washington] from what it was in Japan," Mr. Ishihara said at a private briefing for Japanese reporters at the end of his visit.
During his Oct. 6-11 visit, Mr. Ishihara met with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretary of State John Bolton and National Security Council officials James Moriarity and Michael Green.
In addition, he told the reporters, he was invited to dinner by a "very important person who is over [National Security Advisor Condoleezza] Rice and very close to the president." He said other senior officials also attended the dinner.
The Tokyo governor said half the time he spent in meetings in Washington was taken up by the North Korea issue.
"If Japan will pay money to North Korea, it would mean stabbing our [U.S.] ally in the back, because a country once called part of the 'axis of evil' has not changed at all," he said.
"It is absolutely clear that North Korea is supplying parts of Scud missiles to Iraq," he said.
"It has made those parts in the course of developing its Taepodong missile and is still making them. The Japanese media and Foreign Ministry know it but just don't say so."
Mr. Ishihara told the reporters that Japanese politicians have failed to make good use of what he described as the "North Korea card."
"The North Korea card is very important. We should use this card positively," he said.
Mr. Ishihara has long been known for his controversial statements. In the United States, he is best known for his book, "The Japan That Can Say No," which advocates a more assertive Japanese foreign policy.
In a speech in May to the Japan Self-Defense Force, he offended Koreans by using the term "sangoku-jin," a disparaging word meaning literally "men from the third country."
Mr. Ishihara said he had told the guests at the Washington dinner party that Japan's international airline system will collapse within two years because of overcrowding at existing airports.
He said some of the guests expressed sympathy for his proposal that the Yokota U.S. military base in Tokyo be opened to co-use by civilian flights.


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