Ikeda stresses U.S. ties, Asia-Pacific cooperation

Better relations with the United States, China and South Korea are pivotal for Japan as it seeks stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda said at the regular Diet session’s opening Jan. 20.Ikeda said Japan will seek cooperation with the U.S. in line with a joint declaration issued by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and President Bill Clinton last April. Relations with the U.S. are the main pillar of Japan’s diplomacy, he added.He said Japan will vigorously promote discussions to upgrade the bilateral defense guidelines to the needs of the post-Cold War era. The two countries are seeking to complete the review by fall.Japan also will try to resolve pending trade disputes such as civil aviation talks, Ikeda said. As for China and South Korea, Ikeda said that some areas of concern exist in relations with these neighbors and that promoting favorable ties is essential.Japan will continue to support China’s economic liberalization policy and its entry into the World Trade Organization, because China must play a constructive role in the international community, he said. He welcomed the improvement in Sino-U.S. ties, saying that stable relations among Japan and the two major powers are vital to the stability and prosperity of the region.Japan will continue to promote cooperation with South Korea and the U.S. to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula, Ikeda said. He said Japan also will promote close cooperation with countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Russia and Central and South America.