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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 08:01 GMT
Bush celebrates Japan alliance
President George W Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
The two leaders enjoy a friendly relationship
US President George W Bush has thanked Japan for its support following the 11 September attacks in America.

Addressing the Japanese parliament, he said the two countries had formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times which had brought prosperity and an era of peace in the Pacific.

Japan and America share a vision of the Asia-Pacific region as a fellowship of free nations

George W Bush
"Your response to the terrorist threat has demonstrated the strength of our alliance, and the indispensable role of Japan - a role that is global, and begins in Asia," Mr Bush said.

Mr Bush has now arrived in South Korea on the second leg of his three-nation tour.

Anti-Bush rally in Seoul
Mr Bush's remarks have caused anger in Seoul
There his "axis of evil" speech has drawn heavy criticism for its bellicose stance. South Korean officials have voiced concern it imperils their "sunshine" policy of seeking warmer ties with the communist North.

Mr Bush is scheduled to visit the demilitarised zone separating the two countries, which still technically remain at war since an armed truce ended their conflict in 1953.

He will round his trip off in China.

Vision for the future

Mr Bush told members of Japan's parliament he was convinced that the 21st Century would be "the Pacific century" and pledged that America would continue to support the countries of the region.

"We will continue to show American power and purpose in support of the Philippines, Australia and Thailand. We will deter aggression against the Republic of Korea," Mr Bush said.

A Japanese pedestrian passes a Japanese stocks sign
Mr Koizumi has been pushing through difficult economic reforms
"Together, Japan and the United States will strengthen our ties of security. America will remember our commitments to the people of Taiwan."

Mr Bush also outlined America's 21st Century vision for the Pacific region.

"Japan and America share a vision for the future of the Asia-Pacific region as a fellowship of free Pacific nations."

"We seek a peaceful region where the proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction does not threaten humanity. We seek a region in which demilitarised zones and missile batteries no longer separate people with a common heritage and a common future."

Support for reforms

In just the third speech by a US president to the Diet after Ronald Reagan in 1983 and Bill Clinton in 1996, Mr Bush was keen to show support for painful economic reforms being carried out by his host, the Japanese prime minister.

It is better to move forward boldly with reform and restructuring than to wait, hoping that old practices will somehow work again

George W Bush
"Japan has some of the most competitive corporations, some of the most educated and motivated workers in the world. And Japan, thanks to my friend Junichiro Koizumi, is on the path of reform," he said.

"It is better to move forward boldly with reform and restructuring than to wait, hoping that old practices will somehow work again."

Koizumi boost

Mr Bush reserved great praise for Mr Koizumi, whose popularity has recently plummeted in Japan.

"I support your prime minister," he said. "He is a leader who embodies the energy and determination of his country. I enjoy his friendship and I enjoy his sense of humour."

The BBC's Tokyo correspondent, Charles Scanlon, says Mr Bush's praise for Mr Koizumi was an inspiring pep talk aimed at boosting support for the Japanese leader.

Our correspondent said it reflects the American view that reforms, although stalled, are very much dependent on Mr Koizumi - that there is no-one else to take his place.

Mr Koizumi's economic reform programme has met with stiff resistance even from within his own party.

The BBC's Nick Hawton
"Minds are now focused on his visit to South Korea"
The BBC's Clive Myrie
"Scores have been arrested in anti-US protests"
US President George Bush
"America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances"
The BBC's Caroline Gluck
"I think his comments were very much for a domestic audience"
See also:

19 Feb 02 | Business
Reform fears hit Tokyo markets
19 Feb 02 | Media reports
N Korea attacks 'junket of war'
18 Feb 02 | Americas
Yen gaffe joins Bushism catalogue
18 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Tokyo summit sees leaders trade favours
17 Feb 02 | Business
Bush urges Japan to reform economy
18 Feb 02 | Business
Bush gaffe hits yen
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