Monday, February 16, 2009

First Stop: Japan

The long awaited Asia Tour has now officially begun. On the Secretary's plane en route to Asia, Robert Wood, Acting Department Spokesman, said that the mood was enthusiastic but many were still hard at work on last minute details.

At a refueling stop in Alaska Clinton came to the back of the plane to address reporters. Of course she addressed a number of issues, including climate change, North Korea, Russia and human rights. Interestingly, she said that she would strive to get out of ministerial buildings and hold events with regular citizens; aiming to hold town hall meetings and meet with leaders of top non-governmental organizations.

The plane touched down at Tokyo International Airport on Monday night where she also attended a ceremony with members of the Special Olympics committee and some Special Olympics athletes as well as Naoko Yamazaki, the second Japanese woman to go into space, and Chiaki Mukai, the first Japanese female astronaut. The ceremony was held to commemorate the arrival of the first secretary of state ever to make Japan their first overseas stop.

Next on the agenda is a meeting with Ichiro Ozawa, head of the Democratic Party of Japan, at her request and a following dinner with Prime Minister Taro Aso. Tuesday, Clinton will also hold a press conference with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone after the two sign an agreement to shift 8,000 U.S. Marines from their base in Okinawa to Guam. She will also meet with Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, as well as with families of Japanese kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Secretary is scheduled to spend three days in Japan. I'm looking forward to see how all of her meetings play out!

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