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Japan's PM to rearrange visit to U.S. in April


08:16, December 13, 2011

TOKYO, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will rearrange a planned meeting in January with U.S. President Barack Obama to late April due to schedule conflicts on both sides, a top government spokesperson said Monday.

According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura, the Japanese leader will visit the White House to hold formal talks with his U.S. counterpart in late April.

Tokyo and Washington will schedule official talks to be held at the White House at a "convenient time for both sides," Fujimura told a news conference on Monday.

A formal summit between the country's leaders hasn't taken place at the White House since ex-Liberal Democratic Party chief Taro Aso visited Washington in February 2009, following Obama's inauguration.

With the Obama administration involved in the run-up to his presidential campaign to secure a second term in office and the possibility of Noda facing political turbulence in the form of a possible Cabinet reshuffle following censure motions being slapped on two of his ministers, the meeting will likely be rescheduled for the end of April to coincide with Japan's Golden Week extended holiday.

Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba is scheduled to visit Washington from Sunday to hold talks with Hillary Clinton on issues spanning the stalled relocation of a U.S. Marine base in Okinawa, which has hit a fresh impasse following a recent spat of gaffes made by the members of the central government regarding the base's transfer, as well as Japan's involvement in the U.S.-backed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In October at an APEC meeting in Hawaii, Noda told Obama that Japan was interested in holding talks regarding joining the TPP, but domestic opposition is becoming ever-more vociferous as Japan may have to eliminate tariffs protecting some delicate sectors such as its rice farming industry and other agricultural trade.

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