Japan said it is hoping to arrange a meeting very soon with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss the looming impasse over shifting U.S. military personnel on Okinawa.
"I’d like a foreign ministers’ meeting held as early as possible," Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Thursday.
Japan’s foreign minister is planning a trip to the United States next week, which could coincide with Clinton’s scheduled Jan. 12 stop in Hawaii, according to Japanese media reports and the U.S. State Department.
Ministry officials would not confirm Thursday whether they were seeking a meeting between Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Clinton next week.
Clinton will tour the Pacific Jan. 11-19, making visits to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia, according to the State Department.
The U.S. relationship with Japan has grown tense since the election of Hatoyama and his ruling coalition in September.
The new government has decided to review a 2006 bilateral agreement to move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a rural area on Okinawa.
The U.S. has maintained that building an air facility on Camp Schwab, which took years to negotiate with the former government, is the best option.
Hatoyama, who is facing growing discontent from the Japanese public over his performance, said he expects a decision on how to proceed with the agreement by May.