Iwaya Wants To Improve Ties With S.korea

Iwaya wants to improve ties with S.Korea

Japan's defense minister says he is looking forward to meeting his South Korean counterpart to discuss improving relations to deal with the North Korean nuclear and missile issues.

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya made the remarks in a meeting in Oita Prefecture on Saturday.

Iwaya is arranging a meeting with South Korea's Minister of National Defense, Jeong Kyeong-doo on the sidelines of an Asian security meeting known as the Shangri-La Dialogue early next month in Singapore.

It would be the first meeting of the countries' defense ministers since an incident last December in which Japan said a South Korean navy vessel directed a fire-control radar at a Japanese patrol plane. Seoul denies this.

Iwaya referred to North Korea's recent launches of short-range ballistic missiles and said Japan's security cannot be maintained without the 3-way cooperation among the United States, Japan and South Korea.

He said although various issues have arisen between Japan and South Korea, he wants to meet his counterpart to restore defense relations.

Iwaya also said he wants to visit China this year, as he believes problems that occur could become bigger if defense officials have not met and built a relationship of mutual trust.

He said he wants to do his best in defense diplomacy.