US presence in Asia vital says Japan’s PM Kan

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Saturday the US presence in Asia was vital, and welcomed its support over Tokyo’s territorial disputes with China and Russia.

Many Asian nations have viewed with alarm China’s newly assertive posture on territorial issues this year, and embraced Washington’s efforts to re-engage with the region where it is seen as an important counterbalance.

"I thanked him for continued US support while there are some issues over China and Russia," Kan told reporters after a meeting with Obama on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

"I told him that the Japanese people as well as our neighbours recognised that the US military presence is all the more important for the peace and security of this region," Kan said as he stood alongside Obama.

The comments underline efforts to repair the Japan-US relationship, which last summer sunk to its lowest ebb in years after a dispute over the fate of a controversial air base that helped topple Kan’s predecessor.

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