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Abe assures Biden of plan to bolster Japan-U.S. security alliance

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed Friday in a meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that his administration is making efforts to strengthen the bilateral security alliance and bolster Japan’s defense guidelines.

During their meeting in Singapore, Biden noted the strategic role Japan must play as the United States “rebalances” its military assets toward the Asia-Pacific region, a Japanese official said.

Biden also said he sees it as important for the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade negotiations, in which both Japan and the United States are involved, to succeed given the growing importance of the region.

Biden also “stressed the importance of moving forward expeditiously toward a high-standard agreement to deepen trade and investment ties bilaterally as well as across the region,” the White House said.

Abe asked Biden to urge U.S. senators to appropriate or unfreeze sufficient funds to enable the planned transfer of U.S. Marines to Guam from Okinawa, according to the official.

Abe noted that Japan is working to strengthen its security apparatus, including legislative efforts to establish an institution similar to the U.S. National Security Council.

He also welcomed the recent nomination of Caroline Kennedy as the next U.S. ambassador to Japan, adding he has high hopes for the daughter of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

He also conveyed to Biden his hopes of holding another summit with U.S. President Barack Obama, following their last meeting in Washington in February, according to the official.

Biden meanwhile reaffirmed the U.S. position on the East China Sea, including its alliance commitments, the White House said, suggesting the vice president reassured that the United States will defend Japan in the event of an armed attack on the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by China.

Biden also reiterated the U.S. view that “all sides should take steps to reduce tensions” in the region.

On North Korea, Biden and Abe agreed on the importance of close coordination as well as engagement with other partners in the region, the White House said.

Abe was in Singapore as part of his first trip abroad after Sunday’s House of Councilors election, in which his ruling coalition scored a resounding victory, and Biden was traveling to India and Singapore this week.