Bush's friendliness with Koizumi hurts other US relations

Regarding the June 28 article, "Koizumi visit presents a tougher Japan": During his swan-song visit to Canada and the United States, outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said that his visit to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine is a matter of personal freedom. He certainly enjoys his personal freedom, but as a national leader, what he says or does also has political consequences. For one thing, Mr. Koizumi's shrine visits have helped plunge Japan-China and Japan-South Korea relations to historical lows.

While thanking Koizumi for his staunch support in the war against terror, President Bush should gently remind him that much is at stake in East Asia because of his shrine visits and that he should not turn a deaf ear to protests from Japan's neighbors. America's tacit support for Koizumi's hard-line stance toward China and South Korea has contributed to the strains in US-China relations and the US-South Korea alliance. It also complicates the joint efforts to end North Korea's nuclear program. It is not in the interest of the United States to keep silent on this issue. Prime Minister Koizumi's defiance is not helpful for Japan's international image either.

It is high time that the United States government said no to Yasukuni shrine visits by Japanese leaders. After all, the United States itself was a victim of Japan's militarist adventures.
Zhiqun Zhu
Bridgeport, Conn.

Soccer: loved or loathed by Americans?

I have a response to the June 30 article, "Five good reasons Americans don't watch soccer." Here are five good reasons I don't care if other Americans don't watch the World Cup:

1. Soccer is international. Believe it or not, some Americans have an interest beyond the national borders that doesn't have anything to do with controlling the world. It's great to watch a sport that we didn't invent and don't dominate.

2. Soccer players are gorgeous. OK, not all of them are as beautiful as the way they play, but just talk to any American female who watches the World Cup.

3. Americans can improve their foot skills.

4. It is a relief to see a sport where men show more emotions than just anger. Christian Ronaldo and David Beckham both shed tears when they had to leave the game due to injuries. Zinedine Zidane, from France, hugged and consoled a Brazilian player after France's amazing win over Brazil.

5. Soccer rules are really very simple. Try explaining American football or baseball to a non-American – it can be difficult.

So watch, or don't watch. The new American soccer fanatics – and we're a growing crowd – won't miss you during our month of pure joy, known as the World Cup!
Martha Turner
Olivette, Mo.

I got a kick (chuckle) out of the June 30 article, "Five good reasons Americans don't watch soccer." Nicely done. Perhaps a real reason why Americans don't watch soccer is that there aren't breaks in the game for Americans to do other things like talk about a play and get refreshments. Soccer has few breaks. It's fast and continuous, and requires endurance. No time for replays. It also needs a high level of concentration, whereas Americans have short attention spans.

Still, soccer is fun to watch, despite the knobby knees.
G. Stanley Doore
Silver Spring, Md.

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