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Japan, U.S. trade talks in stalemate, ministers to meet again: Japan

By Krista Hughes and Kaori Kaneko WASHINGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S.-Japan talks aimed at a trade deal seen as vital to a broader regional pact are in stalemate, Japan's economy minister said, as negotiators struggle to narrow gaps ahead of a summit between the countries' leaders. A U.S.-Japan agreement is critical to the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation grouping that would stretch from Asia to Latin America. The TPP is central to U.S. President Barack Obama's policy of expanding America's presence in Asia.

Abe, Biden hold phone talks, possibly over Ukraine

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held telephone talks with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Friday, with the situation in Ukraine believed to be among the main topics of their discussion, a Japanese government source said. Ukraine and Russia agreed Thursday to seek a diplomatic solution to their conflict during talks in Geneva that also involved the United States and European Union.

Gov't to avoid listing scenarios for use of collective self-defense

The government will not specify scenarios for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense when Tokyo announces its basic stance in coming months, government sources said Thursday. The decision would run contrary to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's initial plan to present clear examples to deepen public understanding of the issue. It comes amid fears within the government that doing so would inevitably limit the scope for Japan to exercise the right, the sources said.

Japan foreign minister postpones Russia visit

Japan's foreign minister has postponed a visit to Russia due to "scheduling issues", the ministry said Thursday, as Tokyo finds itself in a delicate position over the crisis in Ukraine. The ministry did not give a new date for a visit by Fumio Kishida, who had been due to attend a now-cancelled intergovernmental committee on trade and economic issues with first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov. "With this development, Minister Kishida's visit to Russia was also postponed," the ministry said in a statement.

Japan postpones foreign minister's trip to Russia: Jiji

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will postpone a visit to Russia by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida that had been planned for later this month, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, as bloodshed in an eastern city in Ukraine threatened to overshadow crisis talks in Geneva. Japan has joined other Group of Seven countries in imposing sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea in southern Ukraine, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also made improved ties with Moscow a diplomatic priority.

Obama, Abe to battle negative images at U.S.-Japan summit

By Linda Sieg and David Brunnstrom TOKYO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When U.S. President Barack Obama meets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a summit next week, they will be battling negative undercurrents that could undermine their message that Asia's most important security alliance is firm. Obama, stopping in Tokyo at the beginning of a four-nation Asian trip, must counter worries in Japan that his commitment to its defense in the face of an increasingly assertive China is weak.

Abe aims to overcome gaps with U.S. to conclude TPP talks

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday Japan will address differences with the United States to successfully conclude multilateral talks for a Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. "We intend to overcome our mutual differences and together forge a sturdy economic order for Asia and the Pacific in the 21st century," Abe said in a speech delivered at a forum in Tokyo. "We wish to create an unshakable foundation for growth."

Abe offers sympathies over S. Korean ferry sinking

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday expressed his sympathies to the South Korean people involved in a fatal ferry accident the previous day. The Japanese government has offered to provide aid to South Korea following the incident in waters off South Korea's southwest coast that has left at least nine people dead and over 280 missing. "I would like to express my sympathies to those affected and their families," Abe said while delivering a speech at a symposium in Tokyo.

Japan PM offers sympathy to S. Korea ferry victims

Japan's prime minister offered "heartfelt sympathy" on Thursday to those affected by the ferry disaster in South Korea, in a rare moment of detente between the feuding neighbours. Divers were searching for nearly 300 people still missing 24 hours after the huge vessel capsized off the southwestern coast of South Korea, with hopes of finding any survivors fading. Six people have been confirmed dead.

Japan, S. Korea remain apart over "comfort women" issue

Japan and South Korea failed to narrow differences during a meeting Wednesday on the issue of Korean women forced to serve at brothels for the wartime Japanese military. "It was a very meaningful consultation in that we were able to deepen understanding on each other's position and situation," Junichi Ihara, director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Foreign Ministry, told reporters after meeting in Seoul with Lee Sang Deok, director general of the Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau of South Korea's Foreign Ministry.
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