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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Victor Cha
Director for Asian Affairs
National Security Council
June 27, 2006

Victor Cha
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for participating in "Ask the White House" today. My name is Victor Cha. I am a Director in our East Asian Affairs Directorate at the National Security Council with responsibility for Japan, the Koreas, Australia and New Zealand. We are all looking forward to the visit of Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan this week to the United States. I welcome your questions regarding this visit and will do my best to answer them.

Aya, from Washington D.C. writes:
Lots of personels who were in charge of Japan have left the administraion. Does that show the decreasing interest in Japan?

Victor Cha
Thanks for your question Aya. On the contrary, this administration is very interested in maintaining our strong alliance ties and friendship with Japan. Personnel changes are a natural part of the course of any administration, particularly one that has had two terms in office. While persons change, though, U.S. interests do not. We believe that Japan is a critical ally not only in Asia, but in the world. Together we share a host of common interests including the promotion of democracy, free trade, and human rights. We hope that the visit of the Prime Minister will be a great chance to showcase the vitality and importance of the relationship. Thanks for your question.

Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio writes:
Director Cha: The upcoming visit with Prime Minister Koizumis and President Bush, is this just a face to face, touch base with each other kind of thing on several issue or is there a prime issue that is behind the meeting? The Prime Minister is going to visit Graceland with the President, what is the motive behind this? Was the Prime Minister a fan of Elvis or something like that? Thank You

Victor Cha
Cliff, thanks for your question. I'm glad you asked about Graceland! Yes, we are very excited about this trip. The Prime Minister, according to the newspapers, is a huge Elvis fan! I would not say there is a "primary issue" for the meeting between the President and Prime Minister. With visits of this nature, the two leaders will generally cover the range of issues in their bilateral relationship as well as global issues. Where they see it as necessary, they will dig deeper on certain topics. Besides, the President and the Prime Minister get along well and enjoy spending time together!

Oscar, from Nogales, AZ writes:
Director Cha; What is the position of the Japanese Government on the intentions of South Korea to continue to pursue an unification with North Korea even as North Korea develops a long-range missile? and how does the U.S. take their position?

Victor Cha
Oscar, thanks for your question. I cannot speak for the Japanese government, but I can say that the United States and Japan share similar objectives with our South Korean ally vis a vis North Korea. That is – we would all like North Korea to return to Six Party talks and implement the Joint Statement that the US, Japan, South Korea, China, and Russia agreed to in September 2005. Thanks.

Deborah, from Albany, NY, USA writes:
It was easy to find the fox news special on the Prime Minister's visit to Graceland, but it also mentioned that Koizumi will be visiting the White House on the 29th. Is he just visiting, or will he be attending meatings with the president?

Victor Cha
Deborah from Albany! (I am also from New York). Yes, the Prime Minister and the President will go to Graceland, but before this trip, we will host the Prime Minister for an Official Visit at the White House. The President will host an arrival ceremony for the Prime Minister on the South Lawn (weather permitting). They will then have meetings together, and a joint press availability. Later that evening, the President and Mrs. Bush will host a White House dinner (with entertainment!). So, it is a full schedule of events that prioritizes work but leaves room for socializing. Thanks for your question.

Drake, from Idaho writes:
Dear Mr. Cha,Do you think that US-Japan realtions will change at all after Koizumi's term is up? How much of Japanese-US relations right now is based on the relationship between Bush and Koizumi? Thank you very much. Drake

Victor Cha
Drake. Thanks for your question. There is no denying that the President and the Prime Minister have had a unique relationship. In spite of the language barrier, they have become good friends and colleagues. And US-Japan relations have benefited from this friendship. However, Japan is an ally with which we share many common interest as well as common values and these constitute the foundation of the alliance. This foundation will certainly continue under future leaders.

Ben, from Menomonee Falls, WI writes:
Will the Mr. Koizumi Junichiro and President Bush discuss anything about the threat of the missle launch in North Korea and are they going to discuss free trade agreements between Japan and the United States?

Victor Cha
Ben, I am sure the topic of North Korea will come up between the two leaders as this issue is very important to both nations. As you know, Japan and the United States are participants in the Six Party talks. These talks have been hosted by China. The last round took place in November 2005. The previous round in September 2005 resulted in a Joint Statement by all parties which we would like North Korea to adhere to. The statement calls on North Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, and it is the expectation of the five other parties that they will live up to their obligations. Regarding trade, the United States and Japan have a vibrant economic relationship. We are key trading partners and continue to work to promote freer trade, including on beef exports. These and many other issues are likely to be discussed over the two days the leaders spend together. Thanks for your question.

Mike, from NYC writes:
Dr. Cha: As you are the Director for Asian Affairs, why does the title include NZ and Australia?

Victor Cha
Mike - thanks for your question. We define Asia - a top priority of the President's foreign policy agenda - to include both the North and South Pacific, which would include Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps the Australians prefer to be handled by some other directorate, but they are stuck with me! (Just kidding, I get on well with our Australian allies).

Victor Cha
Thanks to everyone for your great questions. The President is looking forward to the visit of the Prime Minister. We hope that you tune in and enjoy the festivities!

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