Japan: new trade minister planning to visit China for energy talks

Newly appointed Japanese Trade Minister Toshihiro Nikai unveiled plans Tuesday to visit China this year for energy talks that may address a dispute over underwater oil and gas reserves in the East China Sea.

Nikai said there are several other outstanding bilateral energy issues between Japan and China, and he emphasized the two countries need to cooperate to tackle those issues.

Nikai faces several challenges in energy policy, where disputes persist with China over oil and gas reserves in the East China Sea. Japan also needs cooperative efforts with other Asian nations to strengthen the region's energy supply security, analysts say. An expected increase in demand for oil, gas and electricity from China and India in the years ahead has sparked talk in Japan that the country should more actively secure long-term access to overseas supplies of oil, natural gas and natural uranium, the AP reports.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi shuffled his Cabinet Monday, bringing Nikai in from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. A.M.

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