GOP lawmaker prods Kishi on South Korea relations

Kyodo

Senior Vice Foreign Minister Nobuo Kishi discussed the contentious visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his older brother, to Yasukuni Shrine with Republican Rep. Steve Chabot on Monday, the U.S. lawmaker said.

At a meeting in Washington, Chabot, a member of the House of Representatives, responded, “I certainly understand that,” to Kishi’s explanation of the prime minister’s pilgrimage to the shrine.

Chabot, who heads the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific under the Foreign Affairs Committee, said he called for better ties between Japan and South Korea, as “strong allies of the United States.”

“We would obviously like them to take each other into consideration. We want our allies to get along well,” Chabot told reporters after meeting with Kishi.

Kishi, a House of Representatives member, plans to meet with U.S. officials, including Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, in the U.S. capital and also visit Boston later this week.

Kishi and Chabot also discussed China’s claim to the Senkaku islets and ongoing negotiations of the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

The lawmakers also talked about North Korea’s abductions of Japanese and South Koreans, Chabot said.

The U.S. government said it was disappointed by Abe’s Dec. 26 visit to Yasukuni Shrine, which it said would exacerbate tensions between Japan and its neighbors.

Parts of Asia that suffered under Japanese wartime and colonial rule have asked Japanese leaders not to pay homage at the Tokyo shrine.