The defense chiefs of Japan and the United States have reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait as China is stepping up pressure on Taiwan.
Japan's Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon on Wednesday. It was their first in-person meeting.
Austin said, "China's coercive actions in the Taiwan Strait and in the waters surrounding Japan are provocative, destabilizing and unprecedented." He also said the US commitment to the defense of Japan is unwavering.
Hamada mentioned a number of events that are of concern for the Japan-US alliance, such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Chinese ballistic missiles landing in waters near Japan and joint drills by China and Russia.
They agreed to urge China and Taiwan to pursue a peaceful solution.
They also confirmed that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is an outrageous act that shakes the foundation of the international order, and that Japan and the US will continue to work together in supporting Ukraine.
On North Korea, they confirmed that Japan, the US and South Korea will work more closely to jointly deal with the North's repeated provocations, including ballistic missile launches.
Hamada referred to revisions of three security documents, including the National Security Strategy, to be carried out by the year-end.
He said Japan will study all options, including so-called counterstrike capabilities, and wants to fundamentally strengthen its defense capabilities. He added that the government aims to substantially increase the defense budget.
Austin reportedly welcomed the ideas.
They agreed to coordinate more closely to strengthen the Japan-US alliance, confirming that the two sides are in the same direction on their strategies.