• Kyodo

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Japanese and U.S. defense chiefs agreed Tuesday to set up a regular consultative body to improve the defense capabilities of the two countries, Japanese officials said.

Defense Agency Director General Kazuo Torashima and U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen reached the agreement during a meeting at the Pentagon, the officials said.

Close cooperation between the two countries would be helpful in improving mutual defense capabilities, especially given that both countries are planning to launch parallel midterm defense programs in 2001, Torashima was quoted as saying.

Japan’s midterm defense buildup covers a five-year period from fiscal 2001 to 2005, while the U.S. quadrennial defense review will begin next year.

Cohen said Washington wants to upgrade its defense equipment and other capabilities and will consult with Japan over its plans. , the officials said. The secretary, referring to the 1995 deadly sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system, said the U.S. wants to promote dialogue with Japan especially regarding the fight against simultaneous terrorist attacks involving chemical and biological weapons.

Torashima was quoted as saying that the Defense Agency has been studying the possible impact on the defense front of advanced information technology, and Tokyo wants close cooperation with the U.S. in this area. The two defense chiefs agreed that Japan and the U.S. will cooperate in developing electronic systems to be installed in a successor to the P-3C antisubmarine patrol plane in order to ensure the two nations’ systems are compatible, the officials said.

The Torashima-Cohen meeting Tuesday is a followup to a broader security meeting the two countries held Monday in New York that also involved the foreign ministers of the two countries.

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