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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 14:46 GMT
Tokyo summit sees leaders trade favours
Bush depicted as a Japanese archer in painting gift
On target: Bush is depicted as a Japanese archer
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Charles Scanlon

By Charles Scanlon
Tokyo correspondent

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has received a public vote of confidence from US President George W Bush in his efforts to push through economic reforms.

In return, the Japanese prime minister raised no objections to Washington's war against terrorism and its warnings to other countries.

Mr Koizumi was badly in need of a public endorsement for his economic policy. His approval ratings are in sharp decline and he is meeting entrenched resistance from the old guard in his own party.

Too fast or too slow?

President Bush's description of him as a great reformer will help boost his morale, but there is no concealing the differences between the two sides.

Mr Koizumi has conceded that his reforms are too slow for the United States, but often too fast for Japan.

Mr Bush said he had not come to lecture but to encourage, but his administration has made clear its dissatisfaction in recent weeks. It is concerned about the weakening yen and a lack of urgency as Japan's banking system lurches towards crisis.

Mr Koizumi hastily drew up new measures in time to present to Mr Bush; the next week will show whether they amount to more than another palliative.

War support

The prime minister also appeared to offer his full support for Washington's war against terrorism - he raised no objections to Mr Bush's inclusion of North Korea in his recent statement about an "axis of evil".

On the contrary, Mr Koizumi brought up the case of 10 Japanese citizens allegedly kidnapped by North Korean agents.

He also responded positively to an US request for assistance in sounding out Iran, also identified by President Bush as a potential target.

Japan maintains close diplomatic relations with Tehran and Washington wants help in finding out whether there is a genuine transformation underway in the country.

The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"There is an underlying sense...that Mr Bush is a bit trigger happy"
Japan analyst David Powers
"There is only one question... the state of the Japanese economy"
See also:

17 Feb 02 | Business
Bush urges Japan to reform economy
18 Feb 02 | Business
Bush gaffe hits yen
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