Koizumi Joins Bush in Warning North Korea Not to Fire Missile
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
June 30, 2006
WASHINGTON, June 29 — After meeting with Japan's prime minister, President
Bush warned North Korea on Thursday that Japan "cannot afford to be held
hostage to rockets" and said that it would be "unacceptable" for the North
to test a longrange missile.
At a joint news conference, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said the two
leaders had agreed to "apply various pressures" on North Korea should it
proceed with a test launching.
Neither leader gave any specifics about how they might respond to a test. In
the last two weeks, officials have said intelligence agencies have detected
signs that a launching may be forthcoming.
"Launching the missile is unacceptable," Mr. Bush said. "There have been no
briefings as to what's on top of the missile."
Referring to the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, Mr. Bush continued: "He
hasn't told anybody where the missile is going. He has an obligation, it
seems like to me, and the prime minister, that there be a full briefing to
those of us who are concerned about this issue as to what his intentions
North Korea tested a long-range missile once before, in 1998, firing it over
Japan into the Pacific and shaking up financial markets, the public and
Japanese officials have threatened in the past to cut off ferry service and
other trade with North Korea or to crack down on the transfer of cash from
Koreans living in Japan back to the North.
"Should they ever launch the missile, that will cause various pressures — we
would apply various pressures," Mr. Koizumi said, speaking through an
interpreter. "And we discussed that. I believe it is best that I do not
discuss what specific pressures we were talking about."
The prime minister and the president greeted reporters in the East Room of
the White House after their two-hour meeting. North Korea was discussed at
length, Mr. Bush said. He issued a pointed reminder that the United States
and Japan were cooperating on antimissile technology, calling it an
"interesting opportunity" to dissuade North Korea over the long term.
Mr. Koizumi, one of Mr. Bush's closest friends on the world stage, is
expected to step down when his term expires in September. He was welcomed
Thursday morning with a majestic arrival ceremony at the White House
featuring a 19-gun salute, a military color guard, an Air Force brass band
and a fife-and-drum corps in Revolutionary-era uniform: bright red jackets,
blue tricorn hats and powdered wigs.
But the high point of his stay will be a private presidential tour on Friday
of Graceland, the Elvis Presley mansion in Memphis. Mr. Koizumi is a
die-hard Elvis fan, and at the start of Thursday's visit Mr. Bush presented
him with a jukebox filled with old vinyl 45's, including Elvis tunes.
Mr. Koizumi promptly turned it on, playing one of his favorites, "I Want
You, I Need You, I Love You," for the president.
"Officially he's here to see the president," Mr. Bush said at the arrival
ceremony. "But I know the highlight of his visit will be paying his respects
to the King."
The Graceland trip is partly a reward to the prime minister for standing
firmly with the president on Iraq. Mr. Bush praised Mr. Koizumi as "a
strategic thinker" and someone who "believes in freedom," and went on to
recount a story he used often on the campaign trail, about how his father,
the first President Bush, and Mr. Koizumi's father fought on opposite sides
in World War II.
"Something happened between our visit to Graceland and when our respective
fathers looked at each other with deep suspicion," Mr. Bush said. "And what
happened was, Japan developed a Japanese-style democracy based upon shared
Despite the closeness there was one delicate bit of diplomacy on the agenda:
Japan's recent decision to reopen its markets to United States beef after a
ban related to concerns over mad cow disease. Mr. Bush thanked Mr. Koizumi
for the move.
"I think the Japanese people are going to like the taste of U.S. beef," Mr.
To prove it, the White House put steak on the menu for the formal dinner in
Mr. Koizumi's honor on Thursday. The main course: Texas Kobe beef.