June 8, 2001 | News Releases on Asia
WASHINGTON, June 8, 2001-President Bush has traveled to California, but he should go even farther. To Japan-and soon-says a new Heritage Foundation paper.
Newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi arrives here for a summit this month. To further strengthen ties between Japan and the United States, President Bush should pay a reciprocal visit to Tokyo in October, writes Heritage analyst Balbina Hwang.
A presidential visit to Tokyo would show the world that Japan plays a critical role in ensuring peace and stability in Asia and contributes much to the region's economic vitality, says Hwang, an expert on northeast Asia. The visit also would demonstrate the Bush administration supports the new prime minister's efforts to institute political and economic reform.
Koizumi was elected prime minister in April on a platform of economic and political reforms not seen since the 1873 Meiji Restoration, when a group of young samurais created an "economic revolution" by melding traditional Japanese values with Western entrepreneurial institutions and practices, the analyst says.
Such reform is needed, Hwang notes, because for most of the 1990s, Japan's economy has floundered with stagnant growth and increasing debt. At the start of 2001, public debt reached 130 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), totaling more than $5.6 trillion. (By way of comparison, U.S. public debt stands at less than 33 percent of GDP.)
Hwang writes that, besides visiting Tokyo, the Bush administration can improve U.S.-Japanese relations by: