U.S. defense chief Gates to visit Japan

15:46, December 24, 2010      

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will make a two-day trip to Japan from Jan. 13 to meet with his Japanese counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa as well as other leaders, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell announced on Friday.

"We will use the trip to discuss recent security developments in the region, and to further develop our long-term agenda for strengthening and deepening the bilateral alliance," Morrell told local reporters.

According to Pentagon officials, Gates and Kitazawa are expected to discuss ways to enhance the U.S.-Japan security alliance at a time when geopolitical security on the Korean Peninsular has been brought into question recently.

The visit will "underscore the centrality of the U.S.-Japan relationship for addressing regional and global challenges," the Pentagon official added.

Gates' impending visit to Japan comes at a time when the Japanese central government is procrastinating over announcing a deadline for the relocation of the controversial U.S. Marine Corps ' Futenma Air Station within Okinawa, in Japan's southernmost prefecture.

Analysts said the issue is the source of much local and political wrangling and a constant test of Washington's patience with Tokyo. The visit will be a stark catalyst for Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to move towards settling the matter expeditiously, analysts said.

Source: Xinhua

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