Japan's Abe eyes SE Asia, not US, for first official foreign trip
TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to make Southeast Asia his first foreign destination, reports said on Tuesday, despite an earlier pledge to go to Washington before anywhere else.
The second-time premier is expected to visit Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam later this month, after "scheduling difficulties" put the brakes on a trip to the United States, the major dailies Asahi and Yomiuri reported, without citing sources.
Abe said on Monday that although he wanted to visit the US first to strengthen Tokyo's alliance with Washington, "I've broadened the scope of my schedule, partly because of the circumstances (on the US side)." His visit to Washington is now being arranged for some time in February, the reports said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to comment on the reports, insisting nothing had been decided.