Japan, US redouble security cooperation

Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu have met in Washington with their American counterparts, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The meeting comes ahead of a visit to the US by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

They discussed provocations from China and threats from North Korea, and they expanded on Japan's security strategy.

Kishida has said "harsh environments" around Japan have made holding a "strong enough deterrent force" indispensable. Government leaders previously approved a plan to significantly increase defense spending and acquire counter-strike capabilities.

Blinken said, "These new strategies make clear Japan's commitment to invest in enhancing its capabilities to take on new roles and foster even closer defense cooperation with the United States and our mutual partners."

Hayashi said, "I welcomed the US resolve to optimize the force posture in the Indo-Pacific, including Japan."

The leaders confirmed US forces will help defend remote islands, including the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Japan controls the islands. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. China and Taiwan claim them.