Showing the Flag

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TOKYO: President Clinton Sunday began a week-long trip to South Korea, Japan and Russia. Defense Secretary William Perry helped smooth the way for the President's trip to Japan with the announcement Sunday that the U.S. military would return to Okinawa 20 percent of the land it uses on the island. "At this point, this is announcement has been well-received," says TIME's Irene Kunii. "Okinawa Governor Masahide Ota himself said it was a welcome development." The rape of an Okinawan girl by U.S. servicemen served to galvanize residents already fed up with the noise and inconvenience of U.S. bases. Many, including Ota, have called for a complete U.S. withdrawal. It's unlikely that the U.S. will pull out completely, notes Kunii, especially since Clinton and Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto are scheduled to sign an agreement this week reaffirming the U.S. commitment to Japan's defense. "Staying in Japan is actually more affordable for the American military. The Pentagon does not have to fire the troops, and with the Japanese paying 70 percent of the defense costs, it's cheaper for the U.S. to keep them there."

BTW: Though it will not be a major issue on his visit, Clinton Friday trumpeted recent inroads by American automakers in the Japanese market as a victory for his policies. The Administration says auto exports to Japan grew 37 percent since the two nations signed a trade agreement last August. The U.S. trade deficit with Japan shrank by 10 percent in 1995, Kunii says, but notes that beyond the auto agreement, it's difficult to credit the Clinton Administration. "American corporations have not been a noticeably larger presence in the last two or three years -->