Japan’s new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to make his first official overseas trip a visit to Washington D.C. later in January in order to have a summit meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama. Abe says it is important to start his overseas work in the U.S. in order to rebuild the alliance with Japan that he feels became strained when the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was in power.
In his first speech last week after officially being name premier, Abe brought up his earlier campaign pledge of strengthening relations with the U.S., as that alliance is the cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy. The prime minister added that this would lead to Japan’s ability to stabilize diplomatic relations in the Asia region, although he didn’t really clarify how that would happen.
An exact date for the summit hasn’t been set yet, but it is expected to take place after President Obama’s inauguration. On the list of topics to be addressed are certainly the recent actions of North Korea and China, each posing potential threats to maritime security in the Asia-Pacific region. Also issues directly involving Japan, including the country’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks, and the relocation of the U.S. military’s Futenma air base in Okinawa.[via Arirang]