Japan to welcome Blair the good European

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The Independent Online
Tony Blair will visit Japan in January, Derek Fatchett, British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, announced in Tokyo yesterday.

Since Labour came to power last May, seven British ministers have travelled to Tokyo, a sign, Mr Fatchett said, of the importance London attached to relations with Japan. While there had been no fundamental change in ties with Tokyo since Labour came to power, he believed Japanese officials felt more comfortable with Mr Blair's administration because it was more pro-Europe than the Conservative government of John Major, who visited Japan in 1993.

"If there is a difference [compared to the Major government] here in Japan it is that Labour is seen as extremely positive on Europe," Mr Fatchett said. The date of Mr Blair's trip has not been decided.

Britain has long been the top base in Europe for Japanese companies with interests there. - Reuters, Tokyo