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Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009

Clinton meets with Ozawa, other DPJ leaders


Staff writer

Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Tuesday in Tokyo in a rare encounter between a Japanese opposition party president and the top U.S. diplomat.

After the meeting, Ozawa told reporters that Clinton said she would like to keep open the lines of communication with top DPJ leaders.

Recent media polls suggest opposition parties, of which the DPJ is the largest, may finally wrest power from the Liberal Democratic Party in the next Lower House election.

Ozawa said he told Clinton he considers the Japan-U.S. military alliance of extreme importance but that the two countries should be on an equal footing.

"I told (her) that an alliance should be relations where (two parties) are on an equal footing. Otherwise they cannot be called partners," Ozawa said.

He said Clinton responded that it is important to effectively utilize the Japan-U.S. alliance in various fields.

Rarely does a U.S. secretary of state seek to meet with an opposition party leader.

But Masaru Kohno, a political science professor at Waseda University, said it is natural for the chief diplomat of the new U.S. administration to meet the Japanese opposition party leader, considering the current political situation here.

"In the past, because the LDP was very powerful, it was thought unnecessary (to meet an opposition party leader), but now it is unclear whether the LDP can maintain control of the government," Kohno said.

Other DPJ executives, including Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama and acting leader Naoto Kan, were present at the meeting.



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