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  Asia-Pacific
US to Back Japan Security Council Bid
Rice Praises Japan for Its Role against Risng China
By Glenn Kessler
Staff Writer
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is welcomed by former sumo wrestling champion Konishiki as she arrives in Tokyo March 18, 2005.
Photo Courtesy Reuters

TOKYO, March 19, 2005 — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will praise Japan for taking on an increasingly global role, implicitly promoting the long-time U.S. ally in a speech on Saturday as a counterbalance to the rising regional influence of China.

In the speech, Rice will unambiguously support Japan's bid to receive a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council and propose a global development partnership in which the two big aid donors would coordinate aid objectives and goals, according to administration officials who described its contents late Friday night to reporters on condition of anonymity.

But Rice will also demand that Japan finally end the ban on U.S. beef that has blocked about $1.7 billion in annual exports from the United States to its most lucrative overseas market for beef, the officials said.

Rice, who flew here Friday from Pakistan as part of weeklong tour of Asia, will use the address at Sophia University to stake out her approach to U.S. policy in Asia for the first time since becoming secretary of state. Aides said the address will sketch a vision of a Pacific community, akin to the Atlantic community, one of "openness and choice," rather than closed societies and spheres of influence.

Rice will welcome the rise of a "peaceful and confident China," but she will also bluntly warn China's leaders that their economic prosperity needs to be matched by greater political freedom. Noting that many Asian countries have made the transition to democracy, a senior U.S. official said Rice will say even China "must eventually embrace some form of open and generally representative government if it is to reap the benefits and meet the challenges of a globalizing world."

Rice will also offer noticeably softer language on North Korea, which has refused to return to six-nation talks on ending its nuclear programs because of what it calls the Bush administration's "hostile policy." While Rice will include a description of harsh conditions in North Korea, she will also note that the United States made an offer to settle the dispute last June.

The offer remains on the table, Rice will say, adding that "at the six party talks the North Korean government can find the respect it desires and the assistance it needs if it is willing to make a strategic choice for peace."

But the officials also suggested that U.S. patience with North Korea was running out. One official said Vice President Cheney "said it best" last April when he declared in Shanghai that "time is not necessarily on our side." The official said the North Koreans "have to make a strategic choice, and they have to make it now."

Condoleezza Rice

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is one of President Bush's closest allies, and Rice's speech comes as Japan has claimed an increasingly assertive role on the world stage. Recently, the United States and Japan joined in a statement that said Taiwan, which China regards as a renegade province, was among its security concerns. Japan and South Korea are also involved in a bitter dispute over a cluster of uninhabited islands that have rich fishing areas.

In a sign of their increased global role, Japanese officials plan to press Rice for greater involvement in settling the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, a Japanese official said.

The beef ban, imposed nearly two years ago because of a case of mad cow disease in the United States, is one sore point in the relationship. The two governments have agreed to loosen the ban to permit the import of been from cows less than 20 months old, but a government panel has taken months to review the decision. That age limit was set because it is the earliest age at which the Japanese have detected mad cow disease in testing on domestic herds.

Rice will say "the time has come to solve this problem" because "there is a global standard on the science involved," an official said.

While the United States has previously supported Japan as a permanent member of the Security Council, this is "the first time it's been put in a comprehensive policy statement by an American secretary of state," one official said.

Before Bush became president, Rice wrote an article in Foreign Affairs in which she asserted that China would like to alter Asia's strategic balance in its favor. Since then China has used its economic power to spread its influence through Asia.

"We have no problems with a strong, confident, economically powerful China," Rice told reporters as she flew to Tokyo. She said she wrote that article at a time when China's rise was "a new factor in international politics." She said "the prospects are there that we could see this development be positive, not negative. But I don't want to underestimate the challenges in doing so."


Profile: Condoleezza Rice

Ms Rice's intellectual brilliance is undisputed
Condoleezza Rice is the first black female to be appointed as US secretary of state.

She was also the first to occupy the key post of national security adviser.

She is the most academic member of the Bush foreign affairs team and - because of her gender, background and youth - one of the most distinctive.

Condoleezza Rice
Personally close to Mr Bush, she spends almost every weekend with the president and his wife Laura at Camp David. She has been one of his key supporters during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in the continuing war against terror. Despite a somewhat stern demeanour, which has earned her the nickname "warrior princess," Ms Rice has consistently been one of the most popular members of the Bush administration and a proven ally for a president who came to office with little experience of foreign affairs.

Against all odds

Ms Rice was born in 1954 and grew up in Birmingham, Alabama under the shadow of segregation. Racism was so ingrained in her childhood that she says she hardly noticed it.

My parents had me absolutely convinced that, well, you may not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth's but you can be president of the United States

When she was just eight years old, Ms Rice was standing inside her father's church when she felt the floor shake. A Ku Klux Klan bomb had exploded at a Baptist Church two blocks away, killing four young black girls, one of them her classmate since kindergarten.

Condoleezza Rice (front) with President George Bush

She has often said that to get ahead, she had to be "twice as good," and her childhood chiselled her strong determination and self-respect.

Ms Rice's mother was a music teacher who taught her to play the piano. Her father was a pastor and college principal, who shared his enthusiasm for sport with his daughter.

Change of heart

In an interview with Newsweek magazine, Ms Rice said that despite growing up with racial segregation, personal expectations were high.

"My parents had me absolutely convinced that, well, you may not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth's but you can be president of the United States," she said.

Condoleezza Rice jogging
Rice is a close friend as well as political ally of Bush. Her parents taught her that education was the best armour against segregation and prejudice. Regarded as one of America's brightest and best, Ms Rice went to the University of Denver at 15 and graduated with a degree in political science at the still tender age of 19. A concert level pianist, she had originally enrolled as a music student, with the intention of becoming a classical pianist.

But while at Denver she came under the influence of Josef Korbel, a Czech refugee and father to the US' first woman secretary of state, Madeleine Albright.

Under his guidance, she became interested in international relations and the study of the Soviet Union and switched courses.

Testing times

A masters and doctorate followed and, at the age of 26, Ms Rice became a fellow at Stanford University's Centre for International Security and Arms Control.

After serving as the Soviet affairs adviser on Bush senior's National Security Council, Condoleezza Rice returned to Stanford in 1991 and, in 1993, became the youngest, the first female and first non-white provost.

Condoleezza Rice (left on last row) with Bush family

Until her appointment as national security adviser, she was a member of several boards of directors, including that of the Chevron Corporation (which named one of its oil tankers Condoleezza Rice, but later renamed it Altair Voyager).

When the Bush administration came to power, her influence over early foreign policy strategy was considerable.

She led the tricky negotiations with Russia over missile defence, and is thought to have spearheaded the unilateralist tone of the first months of the Bush presidency.

But it was in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks in Washington and New York that she really proved her strength, standing staunchly by the president during the difficult days ahead and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Condoleezza Rice
She is thought to be one of the most significant creators of the controversial Bush doctrine of pre-emptive action against states thought to be a threat against the US. "The United States has always reserved the right to try and diminish or to try to eliminate a threat before it is attacked," she stated firmly in an interview shortly before the war in Iraq. But controversial as this view may be it has done nothing to diminish her popularity, both inside and outside the White House.

In fact, her steely determination in these times of conflict may serve her well as she prepares to take up the post of secretary of state.

The above articles are from Reuters and BBC.


Photos of Condoleeza Rice

Condoleezza Rice smiling

Condoleezza Rice performing with Yo-Yo Ma

Condoleezza Rice with President George Bush

Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice (center) at work with her staff

Condoleezza Rice (left)

Condoleezza Rice

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon (left) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in her office at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 14, 2005. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Larry Downing

Condoleezza Rice with US soldiers

Condoleezza Rice (upper) seen with Mrs. Bush

Condoleezza Rice



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