• Kyodo

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The Foreign Ministry may set up embassies in six more countries in fiscal 2014 to reinforce Japan’s diplomatic presence as China’s influence continues to grow, a government source said.

Among the six are the Kingdom of Bhutan and the Republic of the Marshal Islands, which lack diplomatic ties with China. The others are the Republic of Namibia, Turkmenistan, the Republic of Armenia and Barbados.

The ministry will seek appropriations before the approaching the end-of-August deadline for budget requests for fiscal 2014, the source said.

As of January, Japan had diplomatic corps in 134 countries, compared with 164 for China.

Japan does not have an embassy in nearly 20 countries in Africa, where China is quickly gaining influence. Tokyo opened an embassy in the Republic of South Sudan in July.

Bhutan and the Marshall Islands are “target” countries for countering China, which lacks diplomatic ties with the two. Turkmenistan operates a natural gas pipeline to China. Japan is hoping to drive a wedge between them to swing interest toward Japan, the source said.

Tokyo is considering a mission in Armenia to gain access to its rich natural resources.

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