- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

Japan honors troops

Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato praised the American military for promoting “peace and freedom around the world,” when he hosted a weekend barbecue to honor the troops.

“This bond between our countries is especially important in this day and age when anger and hatred are so prominent in the world,” the ambassador said in welcoming his guests to his residence in Northwest Washington.

“You here today make real the friendship and alliance that our two nations enjoy. We are here today to celebrate the deep and increasing ties between the American and Japanese peoples.”

Mr. Kato noted that Adm. Takashi Saito, chief of staff of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, attended the barbecue to “show his special regard for you.”

“On behalf of my government, I want to express our sincere appreciation and admiration for you, the men and women of the U.S. armed forces, who tend the cause of peace and freedom around the world,” Mr. Kato said.

The ambassador acknowledged the presence of many troops who served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Japan, adding his thanks for their “outstanding service.”

Mr. Kato also explained how Japan is helping in Afghanistan and Iraq with troops for reconstruction and humanitarian projects, naval vessels that completed more than 650 refueling operations at sea and cargo airlifts.

The ambassador recalled how Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi honored the troops on his recent visit to Washington, which was overshadowed by his White House meeting with President Bush and later trip to Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland.

Mr. Koizumi stopped at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he went bed to bed talking to the wounded soldiers and their families.

“It was very moving,” said Mr. Kato, who accompanied Mr. Koizumi on the hospital visit.

“To see a Japanese prime minister meeting with American soldiers in their hospital beds — to see this friendship and support between our two nations — was a wonderful thing to see.

“It is one of the memories of my tenure as ambassador that I will always carry with me.”

Beef in a bowl

The U.S. ambassador to Japan celebrated the removal of the ban on American beef by sampling a popular fast-food dish of thinly sliced beef over rice for the first time.

“It was well worth the wait,” Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer said after eating a bowl of “gyudon” at one of the Yoshinoya D&C Co. Ltd. restaurants in Tokyo.

“I can really understand why it’s been so popular because it is inexpensive, it’s fast, and it tastes good.”

Mr. Schieffer said the United States will ensure that American beef exports to Japan meet the highest standards to avoid another disruption in trade sparked more than two years ago by a case of mad cow disease in an American herd. Japan lifted the ban in July.

“We’re going to do everything that we can to ensure this supply of beef is kept healthy and safe for the Japanese people,” the ambassador told Japan’s Kyodo News service.

Relief for Pakistan

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf yesterday praised Islamic relief groups for their aid to the victims of a devastating earthquake that affected 3 million people in Pakistan last year.

On the first day of his Washington visit, he bestowed the Star of Dedication Award on Islamic Relief and other groups for their support. Islamic Relief, an international charitable organization, collected more than $30 million for the earthquake victims.

Gen. Musharraf “assured Islamic Relief that the government of Pakistan will always be a supportive partner of its efforts,” said Mohamed Attawia, the group’s chairman who received the award at a ceremony at the Pakistani Embassy.

Gen. Musharraf is scheduled to meet President Bush today.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

washingtontimes.com.

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