• Kyodo

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Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and Adm. Philip Davidson, the outgoing commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, agreed Monday to deepen security ties to counter China’s growing maritime assertiveness in the East and South China seas.

Reaffirming the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, Davidson was quoted by the Defense Ministry as saying during the meeting in Tokyo that the two countries’ alliance serves as the cornerstone of regional security.

Kishi told Davidson that Japan-U.S. defense cooperation has deepened significantly.

They agreed to enhance deterrence and response capabilities through joint drills by the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military, while continuing cooperation regarding the realization of a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” according to the ministry.

They also reaffirmed coordinated efforts to deal with the threat posed by North Korean ballistic missiles, it said.

Davidson, to be replaced by Adm. John Aquilino, said during a U.S. Senate hearing in March that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan could occur within the next six years.

Prior to the talks, Davidson met with Koji Yamazaki, the chief of the SDF Joint Staff.

Davidson is visiting Japan to receive an honor from the Japanese government.

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