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Japan and the United States have decided to hold a meeting of their foreign and defense chiefs on Jan. 7 in Washington to discuss major security issues, officials familiar with the plan said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi are likely to confirm with their U.S. counterparts Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin that the two countries’ security alliance should be bolstered in new areas such as space and cybersecurity in the face of China’s military modernization and expansion.

It will be the two nation’s first “two-plus-two” talks since Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took office in early October.

Ahead of the meeting, Hayashi is expected to attend a U.N. review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to be held in New York from Jan. 4 to 28, the officials said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi review an honor guard at the Ground Self-Defense Force's Camp Asaka in Tokyo on Nov. 27. | POOL / VIA REUTERS
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi review an honor guard at the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Camp Asaka in Tokyo on Nov. 27. | POOL / VIA REUTERS

The move comes as concerns have been growing over an escalation of China’s maritime assertiveness in the East and South China seas and stepped up military pressure on Taiwan, as well as North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats.

Hayashi and Blinken met face-to-face last weekend on the sidelines of the two-day Group of Seven foreign ministerial meeting in Liverpool, England, where the top Japanese and U.S. diplomats agreed to arrange for an early visit to the United States by Kishida for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden.

The agenda items at the planned security talks could include bilateral negotiations over Japan’s annual budget for hosting U.S. military forces, according to the officials.

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