Defense Minister Taro Kono said Friday he will visit Washington this coming week for a meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Mark Esper, to discuss the situation in the Middle East and other regional affairs.
During the meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Kono is also expected to explain Japan’s dispatch of Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel and assets to the Middle East on an information-gathering mission.
Kono ordered the dispatch Friday, saying that it is aimed at ensuring stable energy supplies and safe navigation of Japanese commercial vessels.
Speaking at a news conference, Kono said he will leave Japan on Sunday to first visit the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where an Aegis Ashore missile defense system is being tested.
Japan plans to deploy two land-based U.S.-made Aegis Ashore defense systems as part of efforts to improve its ability to counter the threat of North Korean missiles.
“I will inspect the radar system and launching devices carefully and receive an explanation about their capabilities,” said Kono, who is scheduled to return to Japan on Thursday.