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Clinton stresses economy in Japan visit

UNITED States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for coordinated action to revive the global economy yesterday and invited Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso to meet President Barack Obama at the White House next week.

Making Japan her first destination as secretary of state, Clinton also offered Aso's ailing government reassurance on the solidity of the US-Japan alliance and on US concerns about Japanese citizens abducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea decades ago.

It is unclear whether her gestures will help Aso, whose government is grappling with the worst recession in a generation and whose finance minister resigned yesterday after having to deny he was drunk at a major news conference.

In a sign Washington may be hedging its bets on the Aso government, Clinton also met the leader of the main opposition party.

Speaking at a news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, Clinton said the two discussed "the economic challenges facing our two countries and the world as a whole, which demand a coordinated global response."

"As the first and second-largest economies in the world, we understand those responsibilities," she said.

The two also signed an agreement to move 8,000 US Marines from Japan's southern island of Okinawa to the US territory of Guam, a transfer long in the works and that a US general this month said might be delayed beyond its 2014 target date.

"This agreement ... reinforces the core of our alliance: this mission to ensure the defense of Japan against attack and to deter any attack by all necessary means," Clinton said, alluding to the nuclear umbrella the United States extends over Japan.

On a week-long Asia visit that will also take her to Jakarta, Seoul and Beijing, Clinton made time to visit Tokyo's Meiji shrine and have tea with the empress of Japan.


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