Obama visit chance to showcase robust alliance: Kishida

Kyodo

Japan wants to make U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit an opportunity to show the robust Japan-U.S. alliance to the world, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Sunday.

In a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in Tokyo, Kishida said he is looking forward to Obama’s visit, a Foreign Ministry official said.

On Friday, the government said it will host Obama on April 24 and 25 as a state guest. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to hold the summit with Obama on April 24.

On Sunday, Kishida told Hagel that Japan hopes to “maintain and reinforce the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. alliance” by advancing work on reviewing the bilateral defense cooperation guidelines by the end of the year.

Hagel repeated America’s commitment to defend the Senkaku Islands, a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan, under the Japan-U.S. security treaty, according to the official.

Referring to the resumption of negotiations between Japan and North Korea, Kishida said that despite a wide gap in their positions on the abduction issue involving Japanese kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s, Tokyo will continue to hold talks with persistence.

The minister thanked Washington for its understanding and cooperation on the abduction issue.

To increase regional stability, Kishida and Hagel agreed to cooperate on strengthening relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the official said.

After hosting a meeting of U.S. and ASEAN defense ministers in Hawaii, Hagel is on a three-nation Asia tour that will also take him to China and Mongolia.