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Japanese Foreign Affairs Official Visits Berkeley

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted January 27, 1999

Photo: Nobutaka Machimura

Nobutaka Machimura met with graduate students and faculty Jan. 25. Peg Skorpinski photo.

Nobutaka Machimura, state secretary of foreign affairs for Japan, lunched with Chancellor Berdahl and invited guests at University House, toured the East Asian Library and participated in a discussion with graduate students and faculty during a visit to Berkeley Jan. 25.

The discussion, which took place at the Women's Faculty Club, touched on many issues relating to Japan's economy, education and foreign relations.

Still reeling from a devastating financial crisis, Machimura is optimistic about Japan's recovery, but admits his country must make drastic changes to facilitate growth.

"We must reform our political process, pension system, healthcare and education," said Machimura. "This restructuring is currently underway but it's a process that will take a number of years."

Tax reductions and incentives, a $380 billion economic stimulus package and new legislation are among the measures introduced by the Japanese government to "rehabilitate the economy," said Machimura.

The inability to transition to a post-industrial society is a significant cause of Japan's economic woes, according to Machimura.

"We had a long tradition of trying to catch-up with America, first with a strong military, then, later with strong industry," said Machimura. "We accomplished our goals in the 1980s but were so busy enjoying the good life, we didn't plan for the future."

Machimura also addressed Japan's often strained relations with China and North Korea.

"We have made some agreements with China on the exchange of sports competition, communications and students," said Machimura.

Despite these agreements, China recently demanded an apology from Japan for its World War II invasion. Machimura said Japan's emperor has already apologized to China.

On the topic of North Korea, Machimura said diplomacy is difficult because "they are such a closed society. We need more information in order to negotiate."


January 27 - February 2, 1999 (Volume 27, Number 20)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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