Onodera planning to visit U.S.


Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera plans to visit the United States for talks with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel over the Golden Week holidays from late April to early May, Japanese and U.S. government sources said Tuesday.

Onodera and Hagel are expected to discuss China’s activities near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, as well as other topics, the sources said.

The Senkakus are controlled by Japan but claimed by China.

They are also likely to talk about the plan agreed to by the Japanese and U.S. governments to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa and the return to Japanese control of land used by five U.S. military facilities and areas south of Kadena Air Base, also in the prefecture.

The two defense chiefs are also expected to agree to speed up work to revise the Japan-U.S. defense guidelines that stipulate how the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military should work together.

It will be the first meeting between Onodera, who took office in late December, and Hagel, who was appointed to the Cabinet for President Barack Obama’s second term from January.

Onodera said Tuesday he also hopes to meet with Hagel on the sidelines of an Asian security conference scheduled to be held in Singapore from May 31.