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Japan Uncertain at Delicate Moment in Foreign Affairs With AM-Japan, Bjt

April 26, 1989

TOKYO (AP) _ Finance Minister Tatsuo Murayama said Tuesday that Japan’s policy of coordinating economic and currency matters with its Western partners will not change with the resignation of Prime Minister Noburu Takeshita.

″It’s not something that depends on one leader,″ Murayama told reporters.

Takeshita’s announcement Tuesday that he would resign came at a delicate time in Japan’s international affairs. The announcement was followed by official reassurances that foreign and economic policies would remain steady.

But the nation is expected to endure weeks of political uncertainty as a successor is found, leaving Takeshita a lame-duck leader.

The prime minister said he would step down after parliament passes the fiscal 1989 budget. But parliament is stalled by an opposition boycott over the scandal enveloping the governing Liberal Democrat Party and no legislative timetable exists for the leadership transition.

Washington will meanwhile be approaching crucial decisions on how to deal with Japan’s huge trade surplus. Other countries may have to wait for word on Japanese aid and future moves on increasing cooperation in the Pacific region.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, traveling with President Bush in San Jose, Calif., said: ″Japan is a close ally and friend. We will continue to work closely with the new prime minister and government.″

With a long holiday period called ″Golden Week″ starting Saturday, a number of Cabinet members were scheduled to make trips to the United States, the Soviet Union and other countries.

America will decide next month whether to impose sanctions against Japan under the new trade law because of the huge U.S. deficit in trade with Japan, and several ministers were to leave Sunday for talks in Washington to try to avoid penalties.

Among them were Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, minister for international trade and industry, and Agriculture Minister Tsutomu Hata.

Mitsuzuka told reporters he expected to go ahead with his trip unless prevented by parliamentary business. ″The passage of the budget for the new fiscal year should be given top priority,″ he said.

Takeshita said he would go ahead with a nine-day trip to five Southeast Asian countries starting Saturday ″because of the need for consistency and continuity in Japan’s foreign policy.″

Foreign Minister Sousuke Uno remained set to visit Moscow for talks on a peace treaty and then go on to Mongolia. Japan and the Soviet Union have yet to close the books on World War II.

Analysts were divided on whether the widespread political scandal that prompted Takeshita’s resignation had an international impact.

Yozo Yokoda, professor of international law at International Christian University, said bureaucrats here carry out policy, and switching prime ministers would have little effect on the government’s ability to function.

But he said foreign countries would be watching how Japan deals with the scandal, in which the Recruit Co. conglomerate is suspected of using bribes and dubious share transactions to buy influence with politicians and bureaucrats.

″Scandals are common in any democracy,″ Yokoda said. ″What’s more important is how to overcome the scandal. It will show the level of the country’s democracy. If one dirty politician leaves only to be replaced by another dirty one, the Japanese political system will lose the trust of other countries.″

Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus of the Philippines said in Manila that Takeshita’s talks there would center on Japan’s role in a multinational program to supply $10 billion in aid to the Philippines.

Malaysia’s foreign minister, Abu Hassan Omar, said the resignation ″is a shock, but we respect his position.″ He noted that Takeshita launched a development fund to benefit the six members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and he hoped such aid would continue.

ASEAN members are Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines. Takeshita is to visit all except Brunei.

President Suharto will receive Takeshita with full honors in Indonesia, State Secretary Moerdiono said in Jakarta. He said Suharto described the visit as an indication of the close relationship between Japan and Indonesia. Japan’s aid to Indonesia is about $3 billion a year.

South Korean President Roh Tae-woo’s scheduled May 24-27 visit to Tokyo, already postponed from last November because of the fatal illness of Emperor Hirohito, may be put off again, government sources in Seoul said Tuesday.

″The Japanese situation may take a long time to calm down, so it may be practically impossible for Mr. Roh to make a trip this year,″ said a Foreign Ministry source there, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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