REUTERS - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for coordinated
action to revive the global economy on Tuesday and invited Japanese
Prime Minister Taro Aso to meet U.S. President Barack Obama at
the White House next week.
Making Japan her first destination as secretary of state,
Clinton also offered Aso's ailing government reassurance on the
solidity of the U.S.-Japan alliance and on U.S. concerns about
Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago.
It is unclear whether her gestures will help Aso, whose
unpopular government is grappling with the worst recession in
a generation and whose finance minister said he would resign
after having to deny he was drunk at a G7 news conference.
In a sign Washington may be hedging its bets on the Aso
government, Clinton planned to meet with the leader of the
main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, Ichiro Ozawa.
Speaking at a news conference with Japanese Foreign
Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, Clinton said the two discussed "the
economic challenges facing our two countries and the world as a
whole, which demand a coordinated global response".
"As the first- and second-largest economies in the world,
we understand those responsibilities," she added.
The two also signed an agreement to move 8,000 U.S. Marines
from Japan's southern island of Okinawa to the U.S. territory
of Guam, a transfer long in the works and that a U.S. general
this month said might be delayed beyond its 2014 target date.
"This agreement ... reinforces the core of our alliance:
this mission to ensure the defence of Japan against attack and
to deter any attack by all necessary means," Clinton said in an
allusion to the nuclear umbrella that the United States extends
On a one-week visit to Asia that will also take her to
Jakarta, Seoul and Beijing, Clinton made time to visit Tokyo's
Meiji shrine and was scheduled to have tea with the empress of
Japan, meet the families of Japanese abducted by North Korea
decades ago and to hold a town hall meeting with students.
After taking part in a purification ceremony at the Shinto
shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji, considered the father of
modern Japan, Clinton said the head priest there had spoken to
her "about the importance of balance and harmony".
Speaking to U.S. diplomats, Clinton drew an implicit
contrast to the administration of former U.S. President George
W. Bush, whose legacy includes wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's not only a good concept for religious shrines, it's a
good concept for America's role in the world," she said without
citing Bush by name.
"We need to be looking to create more balance, more