YOKOHAMA, Japan — The flare-up of territorial disputes souring relations between Japan, China and Russia has not weakened the US-Japan security alliance and has underscored the importance of America's regional military presence, Japan's leader said Saturday.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan, after meeting President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation economic summit, said he thanked the US for its support during the disputes, which he said demonstrated the importance of the US-Japan security alliance and the presence of US troops.
Japan's relations with Beijing remain chilly after a Chinese fishing trawler collided with Japanese patrol boats in September off disputed islands to its south. Not long after that, Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev paid a surprise visit to another disputed island off Japan's northern shores, a move that prompted a strong protest from Tokyo.
"We have had various problems in our relations with Russia and China, and I thank President Obama for his support," Kan said. "Not only the Japanese people, but also our neighboring countries have realized the importance of the United States and the presence of the US military."