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Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada will meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon on Friday to discuss the future of the bilateral alliance, the Defense Ministry has said.

Hamada has been eager to propose announcing a new Japan-U.S. Joint Declaration on Security to cope with global issues and is therefore expected to exchange views with his counterpart on how the two countries can beef up their defense partnership.

The defense minister proposed starting consultations on the new declaration in his talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Tokyo in February because 2010 will mark the 50th anniversary of the revised Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

But the U.S. withheld its response at the time.

Hamada will leave for the U.S. on Thursday and return to Japan on Saturday.

In their first one-on-one meeting as defense chiefs, Hamada and Gates are also expected to discuss the defense secretary’s proposal for a major overhaul of the U.S. military as well as the reorganization of U.S. forces in Japan, which is supposed to be completed by 2014.

The defense chiefs are also expected to discuss further cooperation on maintaining ballistic missile shields in light of North Korea’s recent rocket launch that many believe was a test of its long-range ballistic missile technology.

The talks are also expected to cover the two countries’ defense strategies as Japan will adopt new National Defense Program Guidelines at year’s end and the Pentagon is slated to conduct its Quadrennial Defense Review next February.

The original bilateral security declaration was signed in 1996 by then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and then U.S. President Bill Clinton.

It expanded the scope of the Japan-U.S. alliance from a Cold War configuration to one encompassing the entire Asia-Pacific region.

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