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Japanese minister visiting region in a bid to strengthen relations

JAPAN’S FOREIGN Minister Fumio Kishida will visit Thailand, other countries in the Mekong region and China to cement ties as well as “set the tone” of the Japanese presence in the region, an official from Tokyo said.

Kishida will be in Thailand on Sunday and Monday to meet his Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai to discuss a wide range of issues related to bilateral relations. 
He will also call on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak to discuss economic ties, the official said. 
The minister is also scheduled to deliver a lecture on Asean at Chulalongkorn University on Monday and is expected to |highlight Japanese policy in the region. 
The stopover in Thailand is part of his regional tour, which runs from today to May 6. The trip will take him to China, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, a statement from the Japanese Foreign Ministry said. 
This will be the first bilateral visit to China by a Japanese foreign minister in approximately four and a half years, it said. 
Tomorrow Kishida is scheduled to hold a Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi as well as meet with other Chinese leaders to exchange views on ways to further improve Japan-China relations.
The two countries have not been in good terms over the past few years due to disputes over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands as well as a painful historical background.
Kishida will fly out of Thailand on Monday for Myanmar where he will meet Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time in her capacity as foreign minister and de facto leader. He will then head for Laos, chairman of the Asean grouping, on Wednesday before heading for Hanoi on Thursday. 
“Through promptly establishing trustworthy relationships with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam where new regimes have just been launched, Minister Kishida will work to strengthen cooperation not only bilaterally but also in the regional and international arenas,” the statement said.

Published : April 28, 2016