• Kyodo

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At top security talks Tuesday, Japan and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to pressing North Korea to take steps toward denuclearization and to call on China to increase transparency with regard to its military.

“We don’t have endless patience,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a joint press conference after the meeting of defense and foreign ministers, urging North Korea to act on the six-party pledge that was already two weeks past its deadline. “We agreed that we must continue to expect North Korea to immediately fulfill its initial action agreement.”

In a joint statement issued after the hourlong meeting, the four ministers also underlined cooperation over North Korea to resolve humanitarian matters, including the abductions of Japanese.

In the meeting, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates shared Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma’s concerns over China’s rapid increase in next-generation fighters and the modernization of its navy, and agreed that Tokyo and Washington should cooperate in urging Beijing to improve transparency, Japanese officials said.

The four ministers, including Foreign Minister Taro Aso, stressed the importance of “further encouraging China to conduct itself as a responsible international stakeholder, improve transparency in its military affairs, and maintain consistency between its stated policies and actions,” the statement said.

Aso described the meeting as having added “further weight and depth to the alliance” and stressed the importance of maintaining Japan-U.S. deterrence especially amid unstable security conditions following North Korea’s October nuclear test and China’s antisatellite missile test.

The ministers said in the statement they agreed to establish a comprehensive “road map” to expand information-sharing on ballistic missile defense and other military data “in order to respond more effectively to emerging security challenges.”

They also reached a substantive agreement on concluding a pact to facilitate the exchange of classified military information and serve as a common basis for protecting shared intelligence and defense program information. The pact is technically known as a general security of military information agreement, or GSOMIA.

The new agreement came after a series of information leaks involving Japanese military personnel, including a petty officer who secretly gained possession of highly confidential information he was not authorized to have access to on the Aegis system.

The two nations also agreed the alliance is “consistent and complementary” to NATO in contributing to world peace and stability, and Japan will work to achieve “broader” cooperation with the alliance.

Gates pointed to Japan’s role in the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan when asked at the press conference what types of Japan-NATO cooperation were anticipated.

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