U.S., Japan defense chiefs to meet Wednesday to discuss Ukraine war, China

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will meet with his Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi on Wednesday in the United States to discuss Russia's war in Ukraine and ways to beef up the bilateral alliance amid China's growing assertiveness, according to the Pentagon.
The meeting will take place during Kishi's trip to the United States from Tuesday to May 6, with North Korea's missile and nuclear ambitions also to be broached, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told a press conference.
Asked whether the defense chiefs will talk about concrete steps to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, Kirby only said "tensions with China will absolutely be on the agenda."
In a virtual meeting held in January, U.S. and Japanese foreign and defense chiefs shared their concerns about China's moves to undermine the rules-based international order and vowed to "deter and if necessary, respond" to what they view as destabilizing activities in the region.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which began in February, is also generating renewed awareness in Japan of the need for deterrence and enhanced readiness against any possible attempt to change the status quo in the region where China is pressuring Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island which Beijing views as its own.
China has also been militarizing outposts in disputed areas of the South China Sea and carrying out repeated incursions into waters around the Senkaku Islands, a group of East China Sea islets controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.
During his trip to the United States, Kishi is also planning to visit the Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command to exchange views on ballistic missile defense and cyber cooperation.
Austin and Kishi are likely to reaffirm the two countries' close cooperation in dealing with North Korea, which has increased its provocative activities in recent months including by test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile.

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