U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Japan, China and South Korea in the first week of December, with plans to discuss a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement with Japanese leaders, the White House said Monday.
Biden will visit Japan between Dec. 2 and 4, during which he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and compare notes with Japanese officials on bilateral ties and Asia-Pacific affairs, according to the Japanese government.
Biden's visit to Japan will come ahead of a ministerial meeting in Singapore among the United States, Japan and 10 other countries involving negotiations for concluding the U.S.-led TPP pact by the end of this year.
The vice president's visit to Japan next month may also draw attention to the long-standing issue of how to implement the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station within Okinawa Prefecture in line with a bilateral accord.
The Japanese government already asked Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima to permit a land-filling project off the Henoko coastal area in Nago as a key step before starting construction on the relocation site for the Futenma base, which is now in the densely populated city of Ginowan.
Nakaima, who is opposed to the plan and calls for a relocation of the air field to outside the prefecture, has said he may decide in December or later whether or not to permit the land-filling.
In Beijing and Seoul, Biden will meet their leaders to compare notes on global and regional issues, the White House said.
The vice president will discuss with South Korean leaders "our close cooperation and coordination to address security threats," the White House said, apparently referring to issues related to North Korea such as possible resumption of dialogue with Pyongyang.
The United States and South Korea as well as Japan and China are members of the stalled six-nation talks on North Korea's denuclearization.
The six-party talks, which also involve Russia, have been deadlocked since 2008 as North Korea has continued with its nuclear program despite its commitment to abandoning the program under the multinational framework.