Japan, US plan to start discussions on Japan's counterstrike capabilities

Japan and the United States are to start discussions for effective operation of Japan's counterstrike capabilities under its new defense policy.

Japan's Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met at the Pentagon on Thursday.

Austin called 2023 "an inflection point for our national security and defense strategies aligning closer than ever."

He said he strongly supports Japan's updated national security policies, including decisions to hike defense spending to acquire counterstrike capabilities. He added that he wanted to reaffirm "our unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan."

Hamada responded that effective operation of counterstrike capabilities will drastically strengthen Japan's defense. He said he wants to start intensive discussions on roles, missions and capabilities related to the US-Japan alliance.

Hamada and Austin agreed to further strengthen extended deterrence that protects Japan through the deterrence of nuclear and conventional forces.

They also confirmed a plan to partially reorganize the US troops stationed in Japan. US and Japanese foreign and defense chiefs announced on Wednesday that the US will station a Marine Littoral Regiment in Japan's southern prefecture of Okinawa. The unit is designed to respond to military threats to Japan's remote islands.

After the meeting, Hamada and Austin signed an agreement to expedite joint research on technologies to counter hypersonic weapons, which are considered difficult to intercept, and technologies to neutralize drone attacks.