Kishida assures Kerry on South, Syria, WMDs

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida discussed Japan’s policy on South Korea in a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, saying Tokyo regards its relationship with Seoul as “extremely important,” a Japanese official said.

Kishida’s remarks during the bilateral talks Thursday in Tokyo come as South Korean President Park Geun-hye reportedly criticized Japanese leaders this week for making anachronistic remarks about history and other issues.

Kishida told Kerry that Japan has made maximum efforts to resolve such issues in a sincere manner, while Kerry said he appreciated the explanation, the official said.

On Syria’s chemical weapons, Kishida conveyed to Kerry Japan’s willingness to help dismantle them, adding that Tokyo is ready to take part in a proposed peace conference in Geneva aimed at ending the Syrian war.

Kishida also unveiled a youth exchange program between Okinawa and the United States involving 500 high school students as part of efforts he said would help bolster the foundation for the bilateral alliance over time.

Kishida said he looks forward to working with Caroline Kennedy, who is awaiting Senate confirmation to become U.S. ambassador to Japan. Kerry said he believes the daughter of John F. Kennedy will work hard to strengthen bilateral ties.

While comparing notes with Kerry on Syria, Kishida said the issue of chemical weapons hits close to home, given its implications for North Korea, which is said to have weapons of mass destruction. “We intend to cooperate in and contribute to the dismantlement of chemical weapons to the extent possible,” Kishida was quoted as telling Kerry.