US Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday wrapped up his visit
to Japan. During the three-day tour, he held a series of talks with
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Foreign Minister Taro Aso and
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, exchanging ideas with
top Japanese officials on topics ranging from strengthening the
US-Japan alliance, cooperation on the Korean peninsula nuclear
issue and continuation of support for the US-led war against
Analysts said that the main goal of Cheney's Japan tour was to
seek support for the US new Iraq policy and call on Japan to be
consistent with the United States in the war against terrorism, so
that to further boost the bilateral ally.
Cheney's visit came at a time when some inharmonious comments
emerged inside Japan against the US Iraq policy. Japanese Defense
Minister Fumio Kyuma told reporters on Jan. 24 that it was wrong
for US President George W. Bush to wage the Iraq war on the
judgment that the country owned weapons of mass destruction. Aso
said during his speech in Kyoto on February 3 that the US
occupation policy on Iraq is "very naive" and its current governing
policy led to the deterioration of the country's security
The bold controversial remarks by two important ministers of the
Abe Cabinet irked the Bush administration. To expressed its
discontentment, the US government decided to postpone the "two plus
two" meeting of foreign and defense ministers from the two sides.
And Cheney, a hardliner in strong support of military action
against Iraq, met with high-level officials of the Self-Defense
Forces during his visit, but refused to meet Kyuma.
One of the crucial contents of the new US policy on Iraq adopted
just weeks ago is to dispatch another 20,000 troops to the country.
The United States is counting on close ally Japan economically to
continue its cooperation under the new strategy.
In a speech on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawkat at the US naval
base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Cheney praised Japan for its
immediate pledge of support for the war against terror right after
the "Sept. 11 attack" and its generous aids for the reconstruction
efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said the relations between the United States and Japan "have
never been better than they are today," and that the United States
is proud to call Japan one of its closest allies. The gratitude and
commendation were no more than calling for continued support from
Japan for the new US policy on Iraq.
Recently, the United States and Japan saw inconsistency in their
policies on the Korean peninsula nuclear issue. The United States
made a change to its high pressure policy on North Korea and mulled
delisting the country from "sponsors of terrorism." However, Japan
firmly insisted that it will not give assistance to North Korea
unless the issue of the country's past abduction of Japanese
nationals were resolved and was worried about the US change of
During his meeting with Abe, Cheney assured Japan that resolving
the abduction issue is a common task for both the United States and
Japan, intending to get in return Japan's support for its new Iraq
Ever since Abe took office in September, the US-Japan honeymoon
relationship seemed not to be as close as it used to be. He did not
choose the United States for the first stop of his official trip as
his predecessors did, and even refrained from a US tour up to now,
marking an abnormal phenomenon. However, Abe is never to be much
different from former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the
US-reliant strategy. In his policy address at the parliament, Abe
described the US-Japan ties as axis of Japan's foreign policy and
vowed to further boost the bilateral ties.
The United States succeeded in using the Cheney tour to
coordinate its bilateral ties with Japan. Just as what Abe said,
the two countries will continue to be partners with common values,
the bilateral alliance is unshakable and the visit by the US vice
president will contribute to the strengthening of the alliance.
Analysts said the US-Japan ties are to experience another boost
in May, when Abe is scheduled to carry out his long-awaited
official visit to the United States.
(Xinhua News Agency February 22, 2007)