Japan opens defense hotline linking it with ASEAN nations

Japan has opened a defense hotline linking the country with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

Japanese State Minister of Defense Ino Toshiro announced the move at a meeting with his ASEAN counterparts on Wednesday.

It was Japan's first face-to-face vice-ministerial meeting with ASEAN members in four years.

Ino said Japan wants to boost defense cooperation with ASEAN nations.

Japan is the first non-ASEAN nation to launch a hotline with the 10-member group.

Japan's defense ministry says the measure will facilitate communication between Japan and ASEAN member countries.

The ministry hopes to use the hotline to strengthen ties with ASEAN countries as China moves to assert its influence in the region.