Accessibility links

Breaking News

Japan PM to Visit White House Friday

Japan's support of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan will be the likely focus of talks during Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's visit to Washington this week.

Mr. Fukuda will meet Friday at the White House with President Bush. The talks come two weeks after Japan let lapse legislation on refueling U.S. and other nations' ships in the Indian Ocean.

The Japanese leader has said he is working to renew the legislation, which expired earlier this month. Japan's opposition argues the mission lacks a U.N. mandate and violates the nation's pacifist constitution. The U.S. has urged Japan to continue its support operations in the Indian Ocean.

Also expected on the agenda at the White House talks is the long-contentious issue of the U.S. troop presence in Japan.

And Washington is likely to urge Japan to allow more U.S. beef imports, currently restricted because of fears of mad cow disease.

This will be Mr. Fukuda's first visit to the United States since becoming prime minister in September.

The Japanese leader was given a boost earlier Monday when a parliamentary committee voted to resume the refueling mission.

The vote is likely to be approved by Japan's ruling coalition in the lower house on Tuesday, but will face bigger challenges when it moves on to the opposition-controlled upper house of parliament.

In announcing the trip Monday, the White House noted that Japan is one of America's closest friends and allies. The statement added that Mr. Bush is looking forward to a productive exchange on ways to further enhance the partnership.