Tokyo, Oct. 17 (Reuters): President George W. Bush praised his close ally, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi today but also told him markets should decide currency rates — an apparent nudge to Tokyo to abandon its efforts to weaken the yen.
Bush dubbed Koizumi, who has pledged to contribute money and troops to help rebuild Iraq, a “good friend” as the two emerged smiling from a no-necktie dinner at Japan’s state guest house. “He’s a good friend, a very strong leader, and the relationship between Japan and the US is very good,” Bush said after his first official function on a six-nation Asian tour that will be dominated by issues of security, counter-terrorism, currencies and trade.
Bush himself made no public comment on the touchy topic of Tokyo’s policy of intervening in foreign exchange markets to stem the yen’s recent rise against the dollar. But a senior US administration official said later: “The President once again reiterated his support for a strong dollar and for market-determined exchange rates.”
Koizumi, dapper in a beige jacket and orange shirt, was also upbeat after the meal, which featured Japanese beef along with a long list of other local delicacies.