- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 19, 2006

Guns and beef

The U.S. ambassador to Japan is urging Tokyo to spend more money on its defense and warning of a trade war unless Japan lifts its ban on American beef.

“The United States recognizes that it must play a leading role around the world … but we would also like for others to consider doing more themselves,” Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer told the Asian Affairs Research Council.

“Right now the United States spends almost 4 percent of its gross domestic product on national defense. In real dollars, America spends 10 times as much as Japan.”

In his address to the prominent foreign-policy group on Friday, he also warned of the consequences of Tokyo’s refusal to remove sanctions that keep U.S. beef off the Japanese market because of fears of mad cow disease. Japan was America’s top importer of beef before the ban was imposed in 2003. Japan lifted the ban temporarily but reimposed it in January after inspectors discovered a shipment containing parts of a spinal column, which is considered at risk of carrying the disease.

“If we are not able to resolve this issue very soon, I’m very concerned that the United States Congress will lose patience, and we could set off a trade war as a result of this issue,” he said.

In Washington, members of Congress from beef-producing states have summoned Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato to demand that his government reopen its markets. Mr. Kato has said repeatedly that Japan is reviewing its ban.

Taiwan security

The new U.S. envoy in Taiwan warned of “real challenges” from China but pledged America’s continued support for the defense of the island.

Stephen M. Young, who was first posted to the American Institute in Taiwan as a young diplomat in 1981, said that now, as director of AIT, he looked forward to seeing old friends and learning about the rapid changes on the island, formally called the Republic of China.

“That is not to say that there aren’t real challenges out there, including in particular careful management of cross-strait relations with a rapidly growing and increasingly self-confident China,” he said on his arrival over the weekend.

The AIT has served as a de facto U.S. embassy since President Carter recognized China and cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1978.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Jan Eliasson, president of the United Nations General Assembly, who holds a noon press conference at the National Press Club to discuss reforming the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

• Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, secretary-general of NATO, who holds a 3 p.m. press conference at the National Press Club.

• President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, who addresses the Institute for International Economics. Tomorrow, she speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Tomorrow

• Gustave Feissel, former chief of the United Nations’ mission to Cyprus, who addresses the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Finance Minister Takehiko Nakao of Japan, who holds a 10 a.m. press conference at the National Press Club.

Wednesday

• Mayor Ma Ying-jeou of Taipei, who discusses the future of the Republic of China (Taiwan) at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. On Thursday, he holds a 2 p.m. press conference at the National Press Club.

• Floriana Fossato, a political analyst at University College London, who discusses the Russian television industry at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Thursday

• Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis of Greece, who meets Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. On Friday, she attends a White House ceremony with President Bush to honor Greek Independence Day.

• Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah of Afghanistan, who speaks at American University.

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


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