East Doesn't Meet West?

-- An early visit to Washington is typically de rigueur for a new Japanese Prime Minister. Indeed, most new heads of government have jumped at the chance to show voters back home that they can manage relations with Tokyo's most important ally. But the Foreign Ministry is having a tough time persuading Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama to go ahead with a planned trip to Washington this winter. Murayama, who has never traveled to the U.S., has told bureaucrats that he wants to go to China first. As head of Japan's Socialist Democratic Party, Murayama has close political ties to Beijing. His reluctance to pay a call on the U.S. also mirrors Japan's growing focus on Asia.

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