Foreign, defence ministers to meet during Abe US visit

Foreign, defence ministers to meet during Abe US visit
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Japanese and US foreign and defence ministers will hold talks prior to a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama during an upcoming visit by the prime minister to Washington, according to government sources.

At the "two-plus-two" meeting of the Japan-US Security Consultative Committee, the top foreign and defence officials from the two nations will finalize a new version of the Guidelines for Japan-US Defence Cooperation, based on the Japanese government's new interpretation of the Constitution in relation to Japan's right of collective self-defence, according to the Japanese and US government sources. The interpretation allows this country to exercise the right in limited situations.

The prime minister's trip to the US capital, set to start in late April, will likely last about a week.

During their summit talks, Abe and Obama will discuss not only revisions of the guidelines, but also the progress in Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral free trade talks. They will then release a joint statement citing the strengthening of the Japan-US alliance based on the bilateral relations between the countries over the past 70 years since the end of World War II, according to the sources.

The government has been making final arrangements for Abe to address a joint session of the US Congress, the sources said. If the address is realised, it will mark the first speech by a Japanese prime minister to the US legislature in 54 years, and also the first one by a Japanese prime minister before a joint session of the two houses of Congress.

During his stay in the United States, Abe is scheduled to visit Boston, where the birthplace of the late President John F. Kennedy is located; San Francisco, where Japan signed the peace treaty with the allied forces in 1951; and Los Angeles, home to many Japanese-Americans, where the government will set up a public relations hub, tentatively named Japan House, according to the sources.

The "two-plus-two" meeting will be attended by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Defence Minister Gen Nakatani and their US counterparts - Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.

Following the meeting, Kishida plans to head for New York to attend a review conference for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at the UN headquarters, the sources said.

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