| Tending to Japan-U.S. Ties

Ahead of his arrival in Washington, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hailed the U.S.-Japanese alliance as “indispensable” (WashPost). But relations between Tokyo and Washington have shown signs of a chill since Abe came to power in the fall of 2006. Abe lacks the personal connection his charismatic predecessor Junichiro Koizumi had with President Bush, and the two countries appear out of sync in pressuring North Korea to acknowledge responsibility for the kidnapping of Japanese citizens (Reuters) two decades ago. Vice President Dick Cheney said the relationship “has never been stronger” during his February visit to Tokyo. But weeks before Cheney’s arrival, Japanese officials criticized the Bush administration’s Iraq policy (FT), with Taro Aso, the foreign minister, going so far as to call it “naïve.” The alliance was further tested by Abe’s comments denying evidence of Japanese military participation in the sexual enslavement of some 200,000 “comfort women.” 

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