Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba says he intends to honor an agreement reached with the United States on relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, but will do whatever it takes to reduce the burden on the Okinawa people.
Genba made his stance known during a Sept. 5 interview with media representatives.
Under the agreement, Futenma will be relocated off the coast of Henoko in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture.
"Because reducing the burden on Okinawa will be important, I will meet with the people of Okinawa with the best of intentions, even if I am stepped on or kicked around," Genba said.
He also indicated that he had asked Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura on Sept. 5 to arrange a meeting of relevant Cabinet ministers as soon as possible to deal with the Futenma issue.
While he stressed that ties with the United States would continue to be the main axis of Japanese diplomacy, Genba noted that it is more a multipolar world today.
"So it will not do to simply concentrate on ties with the United States and act as one member of the West as in the past."
He said relations with countries in the Asia-Pacific region would be important in terms of Japan's economic growth and rebuilding after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
"I will place as the basis of my thinking the understanding that domestic demand in the Asia-Pacific region is Japan's domestic demand," Genba said. He added that strengthened economic ties with China was one way to bolster Japan's growth.
"If we think about maximizing the opportunities for growth, we will have to consider economic partnerships," the foreign minister said. "A major precondition for that will be converting agriculture to a more aggressive sector."
Regarding Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade arrangement, Genba said: "I will say the appropriate thing at the most appropriate time. Japan will face a very important crossroads with regard to its future."
Genba said talks with North Korea would have to await the outcome of discussions between Pyongyang and Seoul.
He stressed that the Japanese position regarding the Senkaku Islands is that there is no territorial dispute.
At the same time, Genba touched on relations with China, saying, "Since there is the possibility of misunderstanding arising between Japan and China, there is a need to create a crisis management mechanism to prepare for any unexpected situation."
Regarding the territorial dispute with South Korea over Takeshima, the islets referred to as Dokdo in South Korea, as well as the Northern Territories issue with Russia, Genba said, "The islands are being occupied and ruled over without any legal basis."
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