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On possible trilateral summit, White House requests dialogue between Seoul, Tokyo

By Lee Chi-dong WASHINGTON, March 19 (Yonhap) -- Amid some signs that a trilateral meeting of the leaders of South Korea, the U.S., and Japan may be imminent, the White House re-emphasized the importance of dialogue between the Asian nations Wednesday. "We believe good relations between our key allies are in everyone's best interests, and we expect they will work together to resolve their differences through dialogue," National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell told Yonhap News Agency in an emailed comment.

On possible trilateral summit, White House requests dialogue between Seoul, Tokyo

By Lee Chi-dong WASHINGTON, March 19 (Yonhap) -- Amid some signs that a trilateral meeting of the leaders of South Korea, the U.S., and Japan may be imminent, the White House re-emphasized the importance of dialogue between the Asian nations Wednesday. "We believe good relations between our key allies are in everyone's best interests, and we expect they will work together to resolve their differences through dialogue," National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell told Yonhap News Agency in an emailed comment.

Ex-gov't official slams Abe's push for collective self-defense

A former senior government official on Friday criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to change Japan's interpretation of the Constitution to allow it to exercise the right to collective self-defense, saying the move goes against democratic principles. Kyoji Yanagisawa, who served as assistant chief Cabinet secretary from 2004 to 2009 including during Abe's first term as prime minister, said of the move, "Gaining the understanding of the public and going through the proper process (of amending the Constitution) is the basis of democracy."

New York Times accepts Japan's request to correct editorial on Abe

The New York Times has accepted the Japanese government's request for correcting its editorial earlier this month on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's view on history, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. The daily admitted March 5 in its online edition that the March 2 editorial "incorrectly stated" Abe's government may invalidate Japan's 1993 apology over Korean women forced to serve in military brothels during World War II. It came in response to Japan's protest, the ministry's press secretary, Kuni Sato, said at a press conference.

Abe, new Tokyo gov. to cooperate on 2020 Olympics

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and new Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe agreed Wednesday to cooperate to ensure the success of the 2020 Olympic Games in the Japanese capital. The first meeting between the two since Masuzoe's victory in the gubernatorial election on Feb. 9 came after the governor toured Sochi, Russia, through Tuesday to learn how to prepare for Olympic Games.

Japan's possible use of collective self-defense bound by Article 9: Abe

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated Thursday that Japan's exercise of the right of collective self-defense will still be bound by war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution even if the government removes its self-imposed ban. Presenting the ongoing discussions of a government panel on security, Abe told the budget committee of the House of Representatives, "The main idea of the discussion is that Japan's use of self-defense itself is restricted under Article 9, and it will also be the case for the right of collective self-defense."

U.S. downplays Abe aide's comments on U.S response to Yasukuni visit

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman on Wednesday played down video remarks by a close aide to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe criticizing the U.S. response to Abe's visit to a war-linked shrine. Spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters the Japanese government has noted that the remarks by Seiichi Eto, special adviser to Abe in the Cabinet Secretariat, "were made in a personal capacity and do not represent the views of the administration."

Abe's patriotic holiday message may harden attitude of neighbors

The government on Monday released Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's message to mark Japan's National Foundation Day on Tuesday, the first such move by a Japanese administration that could possibly be seen by neighboring countries as adding to his nationalist image. "As we observe National Foundation Day, I feel keenly once again the responsibility to make the nation we love, Japan, a more beautiful nation that has pride, and I have renewed my determination in this regard," Abe said in the message.

Abe's legal aide hospitalized, effect on defense overhaul possible

The government said Friday the chief of its legal advisory body has been hospitalized with an unknown illness, fueling speculation that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's planned overhaul of Japan's defense capabilities could be delayed. Ichiro Komatsu, who heads the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, is expected to remain in hospital for about a month, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a press conference, adding that Komatsu's deputy will be in charge in his absence.

Japan PM defends shrine visit

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday defended his controversial visit to the Yasukuni shrine as "natural" but said he had no intention of hurting the feelings of Chinese or Koreans. Abe's remarks came in response to questions about the visit after he delivered a keynote address to the World Economic Forum in Davos. am/arp/lc
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