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Campbell leaves for Japan today

Campbell leaves for Japan today

The ink isn’t even dry on the swearing-in signature of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, but he’s headed off to Tokyo today.

Good timing all around, because the new Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama was just officially chosen following the stunning Aug. 31 ascension of the Democratic Party of Japan, unseating the ruling Liberal Democratic Party for only the second time since 1955.

A State Department official told The Cable that Campbell will arrive Thursday, meet with Japanese officials of the new government for two days, and then fly back to the U.S. on Saturday. Accompanying him will be his new Special Assistant Mark Tesone, who previously worked in the shop of under secretary for political affairs William Burns.

While there is no set agenda, North Korea and the potential trip there of Amb. Stephen Bosworth will probably discussed, the official said.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if that came up."

Other topics that seem ripe for conversation are the issue of whether Japan will continue its fuel aid to coalition forces in Afghanistan and whether or not U.S.-Japan base relocation deals now need to be renegotiated.

Japan watchers are also looking to see whether Campbell will speak more regarding the bad optics surrounding Hatoyama’s recent essay in the Japanese magazine Voice, which may or may not have been poorly translated when it was excerpted in the New York Times.

A roundtable with Japanese media is in the works, but no public speaking events are currently scheduled.

Here’s everything you need you need to know about the new Japanese cabinet.