Japan, U.S. at odds over TPP, but in sync on Okinawa
WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were at odds Friday over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation free trade agreement from which the United States withdrew last month.
In a meeting in Washington, Kishida underscored the economic and strategic significance of the TPP, but Tillerson expressed the U.S. intention to develop bilateral economic ties with Japan, according to a Japanese official.
While vowing to advance bilateral economic ties with Tokyo, Tillerson also stressed the importance of building "close economic relationships" with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the official told reporters, without providing further details.
The ministers, however, agreed to proceed with the planned relocation of a U.S. military base within Okinawa Prefecture.
They affirmed that moving Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a crowded residential area of Ginowan to the less-populated Henoko coastal area of Nago is "the only solution" to remove the dangers posed by the air station without undermining the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
Okinawa has demanded the Futenma base be relocated outside the southernmost island prefecture, citing the fact it accounts for a mere 0.6 percent of the land of Japan but is home to more than 70 percent of all U.S. military facilities in the country.
Tillerson reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the defense of the Senkaku Islands, a group of East China Sea islets controlled by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan, according to the official.
Kishida and Tillerson shared the view that the security situation in East Asia has become tense in the face of China's assertive territorial claims in the East and South China seas, as well as apparent progress in North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons development.
It was their first meeting since Tillerson took up the post on Feb. 1.