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Taku Yamasaki, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, will leave Japan today on a nine-day visit to five Southeast Asian countries, LDP officials said Wednesday.

During meetings with the leaders of Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, Yamasaki will explain the reasons behind the visit of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to Yasukuni Shrine on Monday.

He will also provide the leaders with personal letters from Koizumi and will discuss various security issues, including the possibility of Japan participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations.

Yamasaki believes it necessary for Japan to hold continuous talks with member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in order to establish peace and stability in Asia.

According to the officials, Yamasaki will visit Indonesia first and will hold talks with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

The meeting will constitute Megawati’s first with a top official of the Japanese government or of Japan’s ruling parties since she took office last month.

Yamasaki is expected to convey his support for the democratic means by which power was recently transferred in Indonesia and for the country’s efforts to promote reform and democratization, they said.

He is scheduled to attend a ceremony Friday to commemorate Indonesia’s independence.

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