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New Japanese foreign minister favors better relations with Russia, China, South Korea

August 03, 2017, 16:05 UTC+3 TOKYO

Earlier, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled the government

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TOKYO, August 3. /TASS/. New Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono supports better relations with Russia, China and South Korea, he said reporters on Thursday.

"We need to continue bolstering ties with South Korea, China and Russia," he noted. Kono also stressed the importance of further strengthening of Japan-US military alliance.

Earlier, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled the government amid declining support of the cabinet of ministers by the population. Kono was appointed foreign minister instead of Fumio Kishida, who had held this position for four years eight months. In 2015-2016, he served as Minister for Administrative Reform and Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission. Only five out of 19 cabinet members kept their positions, with Itsunori Onodera heading the Ministry of Defense.

Taro Kono would like to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov if possible, he said.

"I would like to meet with Lavrov, when the opportunity presents itself," he said, not specifying possible terms for such a meeting. He noted that considered it necessary to address the problem of the peace treaty conclusion by "addressing the issue of the state affiliation of four islands (the Southern Kuril Islands - TASS), restating, thus, Tokyo’s official position on the issue.

"I believe it is very important to move Japanese-Russian relations forward, so I’m going to take efforts to tackle the problem of the state affiliation of four islands and conclusion of the peace treaty," he added. Besides, Kono said that he realized the importance of development of bilateral relations, as both his grandfather, Minister of Agriculture Ichiro Kono, and his father, former Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, addressed this issue.

In early September, the third Eastern Economic Forum will take place in Vladivostok and will be attended by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He is also expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Before that, consultations between Russian and Japanese deputy foreign ministers will be held in Moscow in August and will focus on the results of the trip made by Japanese government officials and businessmen to the South Kuril Islands.

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