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Good U.S.-Japan Relations Cited

February 16, 2001

TOKYO (AP) _ The U.S. ambassador to Japan said Friday that the military alliance between Washington and Tokyo would survive the furor over the sinking of a Japanese fishing vessel by a U.S. Navy submarine.

Ambassador Thomas Foley, whose 3-year stint in Tokyo ends in a few weeks, told The Associated Press that the military and diplomatic cooperation between the United States and Japan has reached new heights in recent years.

``While it has caused anger and anguish in Japan, the U.S.-Japan security relationship is based on ... history and on common interests, and it will survive and be sustained,″ Foley said in an interview at the U.S. Embassy.

The USS Greeneville hit and sank the Ehime Maru off the coast of Hawaii on Feb. 9. Reports that civilians were at some of the sub’s controls at the time of the accident have only heightened the outrage here. Nine people were still missing at sea.

The accident has fueled resentment over the U.S. military presence in Okinawa and recent crimes associated with them.

``The terrible tragedy of the submarine accident is totally disconnected from anything that’s happening in Japan,″ Foley said.

``But at the same time, it is a U.S. Navy submarine, (and) somehow all these concerns about breaches of discipline in Okinawa have become sort of associated I suppose in the public mind,″ he said.

The ambassador said the search and rescue mission for the missing was continuing and that investigators were looking into the causes of the accident. But he said there was nothing American officials could do to further express their regrets.

``The president has apologized to the Japanese people, I have apologized to the Japanese people, the secretary of defense has apologized and also the secretary of state,″ Foley said.

``I don’t know how the U.S. government and the people of the United States can more adequately express their regrets and deepest apologies,″ he added.

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