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Defense chiefs of Japan, US, Australia and Philippines meet to counter China | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News

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The defense chiefs of Japan, the United States, Australia and the Philippines have agreed to step up cooperation in a bid to counter China’s increasing assertiveness.

They met in Hawaii on Thursday. Japan’s Kihara Minoru, Lloyd Austin of the United States, Australia’s Richard Marles, and Gilberto Teodoro of the Philippines later spoke at a joint news conference.

The defense chiefs noted their serious concern over developments in the East and South China seas, referring to China’s repeated obstruction of the freedom of navigation of Philippine ships in international waters.

The officials also confirmed that the four countries will strengthen cooperation to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, by holding more joint training following the first such session last month.

Earlier, the defense chiefs of Japan, the US and Australia held three-way talks where they agreed to stage joint F-35 fighter jet training. The officials also confirmed that the US and Australia will work closely with Japan as it introduces counter-strike capabilities.

Kihara told the joint news conference that it is extremely important for allies and like-minded countries to demonstrate their cooperation and coordination, in order to maintain peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

He said Japan intends to further deepen cooperation with the US, Australia and the Philippines.

Kihara also held two-way talks with Austin on the same day to discuss Japan-US defense cooperation.

The defense chiefs agreed the two countries’ Cabinet ministers will start discussing the US military’s “extended deterrence” capabilities for Japan, including nuclear weapons.

Working-level talks on the matter have been taking place between the two governments.

The first ministerial talks on the issue are expected at the next meeting of the two countries’ defense and foreign chiefs, known as a “2-plus-2 dialogue.”

Kihara told reporters that the “extended deterrence,” including the US military’s nuclear and conventional forces, is indispensable in addition to the fundamental buildup of Japan’s own defense capabilities.

He said such measures are necessary to secure Japan’s safety in a world where nuclear weapons exist.

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