Britain's Hague vows stronger ties with Japan ahead of visit

14th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague vowed Wednesday that the new coalition government would strengthen its ties with Japan, in comments to a newspaper as he prepared for a visit to the Far East.

London had "somewhat neglected" Tokyo in recent years, Hague told the Financial Times, ahead of the visit which will take in Japan and China.

"You wouldn't describe [Japan] as an emerging economy because, of course, it emerged a long time ago," he said.

"But nevertheless, it has been somewhat neglected in British diplomacy over recent years. It's quite a long time since a foreign secretary made a bilateral visit to Japan."

He added that even though Japan was "the second-largest economy in the world, it's somehow been overlooked diplomatically.

"So it is important for us to signal at the outset the importance of relations with Japan."

Hague will be in Japan on Thursday and Friday, where he will meet with Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.

The foreign secretary starts his trip Wednesday with a visit to China.

Hague said there would be no shift in London's attitude towards Beijing, as the previous government had already formed good ties.

"I think on China, on the whole, they did a good job in building up the links."

© 2010 AFP

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