AFP - The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), set for power after an election win, Wednesday struck a coalition deal with two parties after agreeing to review aspects of the US military presence in the country.
"We now stand at the starting line of the new government," said the prime minister-in-waiting, DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama, after signing a formal accord with the leaders of two smaller parties following days of closed-door talks.
"We will give our all to fulfill our commitment," said Hatoyama, 62, whose party won a lower house election on August 30 but needs the support of its junior partners to also have a majority in the upper house.
The leaders of each party -- the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the People's New Party (PNP) -- are each expected to take ministerial posts when Hatoyama's government takes power on Wednesday next week.
The sticking points in the talks had centred on defence ties with the United States, which has been Japan's main ally since defeating the country in World War II and now has some 47,000 troops stationed in the island-nation.
The SDP are ardent defenders of the pacifist principles enshrined in Japan's post-WWII constitution and have long pushed for a reduction of US bases while opposing Japanese support for American military operations.
The centre-left DPJ also promised a review of the US military presence in its election campaign, but Hatoyama has more recently sought to calm worries in Washington that his government would cool toward America.
Since the landslide election win, Hatoyama -- who is to meet US President Barack Obama this month -- has warmly praised Obama and stressed repeatedly that the US alliance remains the foundation of Japan's diplomacy.
More than half of the US troops in Japan are stationed on southern Okinawa island, where their presence has often caused tensions with local residents, especially when American service members have committed crimes.
SDP leader Mizuho Fukushima, whose party enjoys support in Okinawa, has opposed the planned relocation of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station within Okinawa prefecture, from a crowded urban to a coastal area.
In their final accord, the three parties pledged that they would seek "a close and equal partnership in the Japan-US alliance," reiterating their common platform during the election campaign.
They also said that, "to reduce the burden of the Okinawan people, we will raise the issue of reviewing the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement ... and the realignment of US troops and the role of the US bases in Japan."
Senior US officials have said there is no room for a review of the relocation agreement Washington and Tokyo signed in 2006.
Earlier in the day, Hatoyama met Wu Dawei, China's vice foreign minister and top negotiator, in efforts to end North Korea's nuclear weapons programme and discuss ties between the Asian giants.
China plans to host a summit soon with Japan and South Korea.
Premier Wen Jiabao of China on Wednesday praised the DPJ.
"China appreciates the positive attitude of leaders of the Democratic Party of Japan towards relations with China," he was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.
China "is willing to strengthen communication and cooperation with Japan's new cabinet, enhance mutual trust... and push for the strategic and mutually beneficial relations between China and Japan to continue to develop."