Japan foreign minister puts off South Asia trip

TOKYO, July 30, 2008 (AFP) – Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura has put off a visit to South Asia starting this weekend due to political uncertainties at home, the foreign ministry said Wednesday. Japan was arranging for Komura to visit India, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan from Friday until August 8, said a foreign ministry official, who added that the trip was “never official.”

“But the political situation at home has turned out to be uncertain, so the ministry decided to rearrange the visit,” he said on customary condition of anonymity.

The ministry was arranging Komura’s trip in part so he could join the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation this weekend in Sri Lanka, the official said.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is preparing to meet with ministers to plan a reshuffle in a bid to reverse rock-bottom approval ratings.

Fukuda has waited to discuss the reshuffle until his trade and agriculture ministers return Thursday from Geneva, where they took part in talks that collapsed on a global trade deal.

Japan in recent years has been trying to build closer ties with India, in part due to Tokyo’s historically uneasy relations with China.