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Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama met with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday for the first time amid concerns that the new Japanes government’s policy could harm the two nations’ long-standing alliance centered on the bilateral security treaty. Mr. Hatoyama apparently avoided friction by skirting touchy topics, but there remain tough problems of which he will not be able to easily steer clear.

The concerns stem from the Democratic Party of Japan’s call for a close but “equal” alliance in which Japan is not subservient to the United States, and from the possibility that the DPJ-led government this January will end Japan’s fueling mission in the Indian Ocean. This mission has been part of the efforts to fight terrorism and help reconstruct Afghanistan. It also seems likely that Japan will request relocation of the U.S. Marine Corp’s Futenma Air Station to outside Okinawa Prefecture.

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