The Straits Times
Published on Jan 10, 2013

Japan's Abe to visit South-east Asia to boost economic ties


TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's first overseas trip will see him visit Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand in January, aiming to bolster ties with the growing Asian economies as relations with Beijing stay tense.

Mr Abe had hoped to first visit Washington in order to strengthen Japan's alliance with the United States, but the visit was postponed due to President Barack Obama's tight schedule, Japan's top government spokesman said on Thursday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the Asean-member countries that Abe will visit are at the forefront of Asian economic growth, and Japan, mired in deflation and stuck in its fourth recession since 2000, should expand economic ties.

"It's important to strengthen the cooperation with the Asean countries to ensure peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region," said Mr Suga, adding that the countries were also strategically important for Tokyo.