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Clinton Wishes Speedy Recovery After Japanese Prime Minister Suffers Stroke, Lapses Into Coma

Aired April 3, 2000 - 1:03 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: It is 2:00 in the morning on Tuesday in Japan where Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi remains on life support and where his government could be dissolved at any time. The 62-year-old Obuchi checked himself into a Tokyo hospital 48 hours ago complaining of fatigue after a stressful week. By Sunday evening local time, early Sunday morning in the eastern United States, he had lapsed into a coma, though officials kept the news quiet for 12 hours after that. If they were worried about an adverse effect on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, they needn't have. The Nikkei Index rose almost 2 percent today to its highest close in more than three years.

President Clinton calls Mr. Obuchi "a good friend," personally and political, and says he's hoping for a speedy recovery. In any event, few in either nation expect any big changes in U.S.-Japanese relations, nor in Tokyo's attempts to dig itself out of a debilitating economic recession.

CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett joins us now with more on U.S. reaction to Prime Minister Obuchi's condition -- Major.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, U.S. officials have been monitoring the situation both here at the White House and at the State Department. And a short while ago, State Department Spokesman James Rubin said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright sent the country's best wishes to the Japanese government, and also expressed great confidence in any successor to Prime Minister Obuchi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES RUBIN, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The secretary also reiterates to acting Prime Minister Aoki and Foreign Minister Kono, American support for and confidence in Japan's interim government and offers whatever help we can during this difficult time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: The president is not supposed -- is not expected to address this situation in a speech later on this afternoon in San Jose on free trade with Asia. However, U.S. officials do not expect a dramatic change in our relations with Japan, both economically or as a strategic ally in the Far East.

Major Garrett, CNN, at the White House.

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