Japanese defense chief Hamada leaves for US, will meet with Austin

Japan's Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu is due to hold his first in-person talks with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin later this week.

Hamada left Narita Airport on Tuesday for a four-day visit to the United States.

Hamada apparently hopes to affirm close bilateral cooperation as China is ramping up military pressure on Taiwan, including the staging of large-scale drills. China's moves came following a visit to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Hamada is also likely to convey Japan's resolve to fundamentally reinforce its defense capabilities within five years by revising its National Security Strategy and two other key documents by the year-end.

Hamada told reporters before his departure that it is important to meet Austin face-to-face and build a personal relationship.

He said he hopes to affirm that Japan and the US will seek greater conformity in their respective defense strategies.