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Japan, U.S. defense chiefs to meet over China, missile defense

TOKYO — Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono said Friday he will visit Guam to hold talks with his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper to discuss regional missile defense as tensions rise between the United States and China.

“Given the current security situation, it is important to have a face-to-face discussion,” Kono told a news conference. “I want to discuss where we stand in our defense cooperation” when the pair meet on Saturday, he added.

 

The first direct talks between the two defense chiefs since January comes after Pentagon officials said China fired four ballistic missiles into the East China Sea on Wednesday in apparent warning against U.S. reconnaissance planes flying near areas where China has been conducting naval drills.

 

During the meeting at Andersen Air Force Base, the two are also expected to discuss Japan’s deterrence against North Korean missile threats following Tokyo’s decision in June to scrap plans to deploy the U.S.-developed Aegis Ashore missile defense system, Japanese Defense Ministry officials said.

 

Other issues on the agenda include enhanced cooperation between the two allies in fields such as outer space, cyberspace and electronic warfare, they said.

 

Kono will head to the U.S. Pacific territory aboard a Self-Defense Forces aircraft for his first overseas trip since February, when he attended an international conference in Germany.

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