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Japan, U.S. at odds over TPP, but in sync on Okinawa

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of
State Rex Tillerson were at odds Friday over the Trans-Pacific
Partnership, a 12-nation free trade agreement from which the United
States withdrew last month.

In a meeting in Washington, Kishida underscored the economic and
strategic significance of the TPP, but Tillerson expressed the U.S.
intention to develop bilateral economic ties with Japan, according to
a Japanese official.

While vowing to advance bilateral economic ties with Tokyo,
Tillerson also stressed the importance of building "close economic
relationships" with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the
official told reporters, without providing further details.

The ministers, however, agreed to proceed with the planned
relocation of a U.S. military base within Okinawa Prefecture.

They affirmed that moving Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from
a crowded residential area of Ginowan to the less-populated Henoko
coastal area of Nago is "the only solution" to remove the dangers
posed by the air station without undermining the deterrence of the
Japan-U.S. alliance.

Okinawa has demanded the Futenma base be relocated outside the
southernmost island prefecture, citing the fact it accounts for a
mere 0.6 percent of the land of Japan but is home to more than 70
percent of all U.S. military facilities in the country.

Tillerson reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the defense of the
Senkaku Islands, a group of East China Sea islets controlled by Japan
but claimed by China and Taiwan, according to the official.

Kishida and Tillerson shared the view that the security
situation in East Asia has become tense in the face of China's
assertive territorial claims in the East and South China seas, as
well as apparent progress in North Korea's missile and nuclear
weapons development.

It was their first meeting since Tillerson took up the post on
Feb. 1. (Feb. 10)