National / Politics

Top Japan, U.S. military brass plan powwow in Washington

Kyodo

The top officers of the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military will meet in Washington this month and likely agree to strengthen their alliance in response to China’s growing maritime assertiveness, sources close to bilateral relations said Saturday.

Gen. Katsutoshi Kawano, head of the SDF’s Joint Staff, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, are expected to hold a strategic dialogue on July 16 at the National Defense University, the sources said.

It will be the second strategic dialogue since April 2014 and cover a broader range of issues than normal.

Seeking to secure stability in the Asia-Pacific region, the officers will get more specific about their agenda in light of their first update to the bilateral defense cooperation guidelines in nearly 20 years last April.

China’s growing assertiveness at sea and in the air is fanning concerns in the region. The new guidelines expand the scope of permissible SDF operations in the framework of the alliance.

During his stay in Washington, Kawano is also expected to deliver a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and meet with U.S. congressional staff, the sources said.

China’s forceful assertion of its claims to disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea have drawn international criticism.

Japan, for its part, is in a territorial row with China in the East China Sea, where Chinese vessels have repeatedly intruded in waters around the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China claims as Diaoyu and Taiwan as Tiaoyutai.