Abe, Shanahan agree to bolster Japan-U.S. alliance

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed Tuesday with U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to bolster the security alliance between the two countries and promote stability across the Indo-Pacific region.
"To strengthen deterrence and response capabilities of the alliance and realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, we hope to continue to work together and deepen our cooperation," Abe said at the outset of their meeting in Tokyo.
"Our alliance's never been stronger," Shanahan told Abe. He also said the United States remains committed to supporting Japan to resolve the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.
Shanahan's trip to Japan follows his visit to Singapore for a regional security meeting, where on the sidelines he met with the Japanese and South Korean defense ministers and agreed to urge North Korea to take concrete steps to denuclearize.
Japan and the United States, however, have been at odds over North Korea's missile tests on May 9. Tokyo called them a clear breach of U.N. resolutions banning Pyongyang from using ballistic technology but U.S. President Donald Trump downplayed them, even though his security adviser John Bolton and Shanahan recognize them as a violation.
Shanahan later held talks with Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya in the afternoon. Japanese officials said North Korea would be a major topic.
Iwaya said earlier he expects to affirm with Shanahan the "concrete direction" toward boosting the bilateral alliance, building on the agreement reached during the "two-plus-two" security meeting involving foreign and defense chiefs in April in Washington.
During the two-plus-two talks, the two countries agreed to strengthen defense cooperation in space, cyber and electronic warfare in a veiled response to China and Russia for their drives to boost capabilities in such new domains.
Shanahan, a former Boeing Co executive, has served as the acting Pentagon chief since January after Jim Mattis stepped down the previous month over policy differences with Trump.
The White House said Trump intends to nominate Shanahan as the defense secretary. The nomination requires Senate confirmation which he has yet to get.

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