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U.S., Japan agree to build up defense cooperation

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said Japan faces security issues with North Korea and in the East China Sea.

By
Elizabeth Shim
MV-22B Osprey are seen at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan. Japan is seeking closer military cooperation with the United States due to tensions in the region. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
MV-22B Osprey are seen at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan. Japan is seeking closer military cooperation with the United States due to tensions in the region. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

TOKYO, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The United States and Japan have agreed to enhance defense cooperation in the face of increased security threats from North Korea.

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada met with the head of the U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Harry Harris on Wednesday to discuss coordination in the wake of escalating North Korea provocations, Japanese television network NHK reported.

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Inada said that while bilateral trust and the U.S.-Japan alliance have grown stronger, Japan faces security issues that include North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile threats and territorial disputes in the East China Sea.

It is for this reason Japan is seeking closer ties with the U.S. Pacific Command, the defense minister said.

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Harris reportedly said that he "agrees entirely" with Inada's statement, adding the foundation for peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific begins with the U.S.-Japan relationship, according to NHK.

Inada also said Tokyo is seeking parliamentary approval for an amendment to a U.S.-Japan mutual logistics support agreement that would allow Japan's self-defense forces to provide ammunition and military refueling for U.S. forces around the world.

The meeting between top officials was held as the United States continues to look into tougher measures to punish North Korea after its fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9.

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On Thursday, South Korea's foreign ministry stated U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power is to visit Seoul from Saturday to Tuesday to discuss "urgent problems," including the North Korea nuclear issue and Pyongyang's human rights abuses.

In her first official visit to South Korea, Power is expected to meet with officials at Seoul's foreign and unification ministries, as well as with senior officials at the presidential Blue House, according to Yonhap.

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