TOKYO (TNZT) — The commander-in-chief of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific and Japan’s defense minister said Friday that close cooperation between their naval forces was more important than ever in the region amid growing tensions over the China, North Korea and Russia.
Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told Commander US Pacific Fleet Admiral Sam Paparo that the US naval presence in the region is essential to maintaining and strengthening a “free and open” Indo-Pacific. a vision of a rules-based framework that the two allies have touted as a counterbalance to China’s rise.
Kishi noted that the regional security environment has further deteriorated since last year when Paparo took the post and said cooperation between the Japanese and US navies “only increases”.
Paparo agreed that the security challenge was increasing in the Pacific, adding that “close coordination and integration” between the two navies “paced and outpaced our potential adversary’s operation.” Paparo said the alliance between Japan and the United States is the cornerstone of security in the Pacific.
After a decade of steady increases in military spending, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishi has pledged to further boost Japan’s military capability and spending over the next five years as his government works on a strategy review. of national security.
Japan’s Defense Ministry has reported increasing joint naval activity by Chinese and Russian warships around Japan’s shores. Japanese authorities say Chinese Coast Guard vessels have repeatedly infiltrated territorial waters around the Japanese-held East China Sea near the Senkaku Islands, which Beijing claims and also calls Diaoyu.
North Korea, which is making progress in its missile and nuclear development, has tested missiles 17 times this year and there is growing speculation that it is preparing another test nuclear explosion.
The New Zealand Times writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.