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The BBC's Linda Duffin
"Mr Koizumi has an ambitious programme for his US visit"
 real 56k

Saturday, 30 June, 2001, 01:45 GMT 02:45 UK
Tough agenda for Japan-US summit
Koizumi laying wreath at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington
Koizumi describes the US as Japan's number one ally
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is in Washington for a summit with President George W Bush expected to cover the thorny issues of defence and the environment.

Mr Koizumi described the United States as "the most important country for Japan" ahead of his meeting with President Bush on Saturday.


There is difference between the United States' view on security and Japan's

Prime Minister Koizumi

Mr Koizumi's ambitious political reform programme and Japan's economic malaise will be key topics for discussion.

But the talks risk being overshadowed by the alleged rape of a woman by US servicemen on the Japanese island of Okinawa.

Koizumi shortly before leaving for Washington
Koizumi refused to comment on the Okinawa rape case

Just before his departure, Mr Koizumi said Japan and the US had different views on security, particularly over America's missile defence system proposals.

Mr Koizumi also emphasised he would try to persuade President Bush to co-operate with the Kyoto treaty on climate change, which Mr Bush has rejected as "fatally flawed".

"I would like to make utmost efforts toward making the Kyoto pact an effective, co-operative measure in which many countries take part," he said.

Economic reforms

The main thrust of the mission however is intended to be the prime minister's proposals for reforms designed to revive Japan's battered economy.

Mr Koizumi plans to emphasise to Mr Bush his determination to dispose of more than 11 trillion yen ($88.53bn) in bad loans within two-to-three years.

Other reforms include the creation of 5.3 million new jobs over a period of five years through deregulation.

'New age' for defence alliance

On defence, Mr Koizumi plans to test US reaction to the possibility of Japan granting more powers to its self defence forces.

Political caricature key rings
Koizumi is so popular his likeness even sells key rings
The Japanese leader is expected to propose that the 50-year-old defence alliance between the two countries should "enter a new age," the Kyodo news agency has reported.

However Mr Koizumi would not be drawn before leaving on the rape investigation in Okinawa.

He said: "We can't do anything until we have seen the facts."

Okinawa is home to most of the 50,000 US servicemen based in Japan. Their presence has become increasingly controversial, with a series of highly publicised crimes in recent years.

International newcomer

Mr Koizumi's popularity rating in Japan has soared to over 80% since his election in April but he is relatively new to international affairs and, on Thursday, he met his coalition partners for advice on the summit ahead.

"My head is full of all the advice given to me," Koizumi told reporters. "But in the end, I will do what I think is right... I will be frank and just let out my true self."

The summit is the first leg in the Japanese Prime Minister's three-stop tour. He will continue to London and Paris on Sunday.

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See also:

07 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi outlines vision for reform
22 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's new face of politics
24 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Junichiro Koizumi
26 Apr 01 | Business
Japan's new economic team
26 Apr 01 | Business
Japan's economic outlook bleak
24 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Japan's leap into the unknown
26 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
New Japan cabinet causes stir
24 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Asian fears over new Japanese leader
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