Accessibility links

Japanese PM First Foreign Leader to Visit President Obama


Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso will meet Tuesday with President Barrack Obama. He will be the first foreign leader to visit the White House since the new administration took office last month.

Japan has been getting a lot of attention from the newly inaugurated Obama administration. Just last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made Tokyo her first stop on a week-long tour of Asia. And now Prime Minister Taro Aso is headed to Washington to meet with the American president.

Most analysts believe the Obama-Aso summit is largely symbolic. There is a sense in Tokyo the White House will overlook Japan, in favor of improving relations with China.

Masaru Nishikawa, research fellow at the Japan Institute for International Affairs, explains the public's skepticism.

"Obama's administration is a little bit ignorant or probably they tend to ignore the Japanese and Japanese government. Obama is trying to restore some kind of interest and confidence of Japanese people. I think that is his aim, Nishikawa said."

There is a lot for the two leaders to discuss during their summit. Washington wants Japan to dispatch solders to the war in Afghanistan. There are also the stalled six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear-weapons program.

And both the United States and Japan have been badly hit by the global economic crisis. Tokyo announced recently that the economy here is in its worst shape since the end of the Second World War.

Analyst Nishikawa says the world's two largest economies need each other now more than ever to cope with this recession.

"Now the ongoing crisis all over the world is not the problem, that one country can deal with, it is too big to solve by only one country, so probably need some cooperation, especially from Japan," said Nishikawa.

But the Obama-Aso partnership may not last long. Prime Minister Aso's approval rating has slipped to about 10 percent. It is widely believed the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will lose its decades-long control to the opposition during upcoming parliamentary elections.

No matter what the outcome of his trip to Washington, Mr. Aso looks set to be Japan's third consecutive prime minister to serve in office for less than one year.

XS
SM
MD
LG