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Koizumi Addresses Japan-US Alliance
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Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated Sunday in his new year address the priority of the Japan-US alliance in Japan's relations with foreign countries, and vowed to carry through his reforms in the last year of his tenure.

"The Japan-US alliance and international cooperation serve as the foundation in the efforts to further the friendship with other countries, including the neighboring ones," the premier said in the statement.

Bogged in a diplomatic standstill with the neighboring countries, especially China and South Korea over the history and other issues, Koizumi moved closer in 2005 to its traditional ally-- the United States. He has said that a tighter alliance can help develop better relations with surrounding countries.

In an attempt to seek the understanding of the Japanese people over the aid to Iraq, He said the Japanese troops are there to "fulfill Japan's responsibility" in the international society.

Japan has extended the reconstruction assistance mission in southern Iraq for a third year until the end of 2006.

The deployment is highly contentious because of the Japan's pacifist constitution and worries about the troops' safety.

Koizumi said he was resolved to speed up reforms, including those concerning the government-backed financial entities and the public servant.

"There is no end to the reforms," he stressed, saying the reforms are the will of the Japan's people.

Koizumi has said he will step down from the premiership when his term as president of the ruling party ends in September.

The iron-handed leader successfully crumbled the resistance to his postal reform project in the past year, calling a snap general election and securing a landslide victory to get the bill passed.

(Xinhua News Agency January 2, 2006)

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