TOKYO -- Former President Jimmy Carter said Monday the election of Democratic Party presidential candidate Bill Clinton would be a positive development in Japanese-U.S. relations.
'Clinton is very friendly toward Japan, and he will be a good president for the U.S.-Japan relationship,' Carter was quoted as telling Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa.
During a 45-minute meeting, Carter, the last Democratic to be elected president, commented about the presidential race in response to Miyazawa's inquiry about the current governor of Arkansas, a Foreign Ministry official said.
Carter is in Tokyo for an international meeting Wednesday through Friday on financing of global environmental cleanup efforts.
In Japanese political circles, Republican presidents are generally viewed as preferable to Democrats because of their traditional pro-free trade platform.
However since U.S. President George Bush visted Tokyo in January, relations between the two countries have made a rancorous turn. The non- binding accord reached by Bush and Miyazawa under which Japanese carmakers would double their procurement of U.S.-made auto parts and boost imports of American cars has come under attack from both sides.
Democrats have introduced protectionist legislation aimed at reducing the lopsided U.S. trade deficit with Japan, and political leaders in both countries have hurled insults in a barrage of Japan and U.S.- bashing rhetoric.
Carter, elected president in 1976, predicted Bush would assume a more progressive stance on environmental protection as the November election nears.