Vice President Dick Cheney reaffirmed the Bush administration’s commitment to the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq during a visit to a U.S. aircraft carrier Wednesday, saying “the American people will not support a policy of retreat.”Cheney, who arrived in Japan on Tuesday, was given a 19-gun salute as he boarded the USS Kitty Hawk at this U.S. Navy base just south of Tokyo.
“We want to complete the mission, we want to get it done right, and then we want to come home, with honor,” he told about 4,000 troops in the hangar bay.
Cheney said his brief visit to Japan was a gesture of appreciation for Tokyo, which has been one of Washington’s most valuable allies in the war on terror.
He was scheduled later Wednesday to have dinner with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and talk with Foreign Minister Taro Aso before departing early Thursday. Earlier in the day, he met with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
Also Wednesday, Cheney and Tokyo’s top government spokesman, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, reiterated their countries’ intentions to collaborate closely on missile defense and the realignment of U.S. troops stationed in Japan.
The U.S. has about 50,000 troops stationed throughout Japan under a mutual security pact that dates back to the 1960s. Tokyo and Washington have been reworking that alliance to make the presence more effective. They are also developing a joint missile defense shield.
Japan and the United States are also seeking to coordinate their stance on North Korea, which has rattled the region with its nuclear ambitions _ and its first atomic bomb test in October _ but earlier this month agreed to shut down its main nuclear reactor in exchange for energy aid and other incentives.
Despite the breakthrough, Japan has declined to contribute aid to the North until the issue of past abductions of its citizens is resolved. North Korea has admitted kidnapping Japanese in the late 1970s and ’80s, but Japan believes it has not provided a full accounting of the victims.
Abe said he planned to explain his government’s position to Cheney, and said “the U.S. has already expressed its understanding on this issue.”
Cheney was to meet the parents of one of the abductees before flying on to the U.S. Pacific island of Guam and to Australia, his final stop.