Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday that he will consider dispatching the Self-Defense Forces to the South China Sea while examining the impact of the situation there on Japan's security, a Japanese official said, as the two allies seek ways to defuse tensions in the waters.

The comments were made in a bilateral meeting Thursday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila and came after the U.S. raised China's ire last month by sailing a warship close to an artificial island whose waters China views as its own territory.

Japan and the U.S., its only formal ally, occasionally conduct joint exercises in the South China Sea, but never in such close proximity to features claimed by China.