Saturday’s Yomiuri, Nikkei, and Sankei reported on remarks made by Defense Minister Kishi to a group of Japanese reporters on Friday. Kishi reportedly stated that the U.S.-Japan alliance is becoming increasingly important and that he will try to deepen cooperation between the two countries, including in the space and cyber domains, and further strengthen its deterrence and response capabilities. Nikkei quoted Kishi as saying that it is necessary for Japan to develop the capability to strike enemy bases to defend the nation. Yomiuri quoted him as saying that Japan will consult with the United States in discussing an alternative to the canceled Aegis Ashore deployment. According to Nikkei, Kishi expressed his willingness to visit the United States to hold talks with Defense Secretary Esper when conditions under the coronavirus pandemic allow.
Kishi also said Chinese government ships’ repeated intrusions into Japanese waters near the Senkaku Islands are “extremely regrettable” and “absolutely unacceptable” and that it is necessary for the international community to unite against China’s attempts to unilaterally change the status quo in the South China Sea. Yomiuri wrote that Kishi expressed hope to step up Japan’s defense cooperation with the United States, Australia, and India by increasing joint drills and technical cooperation under the concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific. He stressed the importance of communication with South Korea, both bilaterally and trilaterally with the United States, in light of North Korea’s missile program.