U.S. Reaction to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's Resignation

Following his party's significant losses in Japan's parliamentary elections held on July 12, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto resigned the following day. Briefing reporters on Monday, White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry commented on the "close personal relationship" between President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto. He said the President "had high regard for the skills and the leadership and the political courage shown by Prime Minister Hashimoto."

Many commentators considered this election a referendum on the effectiveness of the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) economic policies. There is no consensus, however, whether the voters' message was that the LDP's economic reforms went too far or didn't go far enough. This lack of consensus complicates the LDP's task of selecting a new Prime Minister.

While McCurry said the White House "looks forward to working with the new Japanese government," it was clear from his statements that the Administration plans to continue pressing Japan to pursue economic reform. Echoing the message delivered in past weeks to the Hashimoto government, McCurry said that "it is very important for the new government as it forms itself, to move quickly to implement concrete fiscal and banking measures to achieve strong domestic demand-led growth in Japan and to restore confidence in Japan's financial system."

Hashimoto's planned visit to Washington, later this month, has been canceled. McCurry said the White House would continue its "consultations on things like the best venue, best time, best sequencing for a visit by the new Japanese Prime Minister." Hashimoto will continue to govern as Prime Minister until July 25.

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