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Newly appointed Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka said Thursday that Tokyo should avoid actions that could lead to a deterioration in ties between Taiwan and China, an apparent refernce to Tokyo’s approval of a visit by former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui.

“How China-Taiwan relations will improve . . . has global implications,” she said.

Tanaka also said Japan should continue seeking the return of all four disputed islands off Hokkaido in bilateral territorial talks with Russia.

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed in March the validity of a 1956 pact that stipulates the return of the Habomai group of islets and Shikotan after a peace treaty is concluded.

While some Japanese politicians and Foreign Ministry officials advocate the return of the two islands first, Tanaka said Japan should continue to push for the return of all four islands.

On the matter of U.S. military forces in Okinawa, Tanaka said revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement “may be necessary” after a series of incidents involving U.S. military personnel upset Okinawans.

However, Koji Omi, minister in charge of Okinawa and northern territory affairs, said the issue should be handled through better implementation of the agreement.

Omi said Okinawa’s demand for a 15-year time limit on a new airport to be constructed in Nago, northern Okinawa, “will be taken up appropriately” in Japan-U.S. talks.

Defense Agency chief Gen Nakatani said he will proceed with examining the introduction of emergency defense legislation to ensure public safety during wartime.

Well-versed in defense affairs as a former Self-Defense Force officer and a leading lawmaker in national defense, Nakatani said he would seek ways for the SDF to contribute to world peace and security so that Japan can win greater respect.

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