• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger voiced opposition Wednesday to China’s increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, the Japanese government said.

In a meeting in Tokyo, the two sides shared strong concerns about Beijing’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China seas by force and coercive measures, and agreed to maintain a deterrence to that under the Japan-U.S. alliance, it said.

“We would like to deepen our coordination with the United States by enhancing our response and deterrence capabilities through our bilateral alliance and achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Suga told Berger in the meeting, part of which was open to the media.

“I understand the severe security environment, and that, I think, drives us to move ahead to change, to maintain the deterrence,” Berger said.

The Marine Corps chief said he hopes to listen to the views of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the government to find ways of enhancing the partnership with Japan.

The two also reaffirmed the importance of reducing the burden on Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan, and agreed to work together closely to win local support for the goal, according to the government.

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