TOKYO (AP). — In the face of rising tensions between China, North Korea, and Russia, the top U.S. Navy commander in the Pacific and Japan’s defense minister said Friday that closer cooperation is crucial in their region.
Defense minister Nobuo Kishi stated to Adm. Sam Paparo, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander that the American navy’s presence in the area is essential to preserve and strengthen an “open” Indo-Pacific. This vision of a rules-based structure that both allies promote as counter to China’s rise was a reminder that there has been a worsening regional security environment since Paparo took the post last year.
Kishi noted that the regional security environment has further worsened since last year when Paparo took the post and said cooperation between the Japanese and U.S. navies “is only increasing.”
Paparo agreed that the security challenge is growing in the Pacific, adding that “tight coordination and integration” between the two navies “have paced and outpaced our potential adversary’s operation.” Paparo said the Japan and U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of security in the Pacific.
After 10 years of increasing military spending, the Japanese Prime Minister Fumiokishi pledged to increase Japan’s military capabilities and spend over the next five year while his government worked on revising the national security strategy.
Japan’s Defense Ministry reported a rise in joint naval activity between Russian and Chinese warships near the Japanese coastlines. Japanese officials claim that Chinese coast guard vessels have repeatedly entered the territorial waters of the Japanese-controlled East China Sea, near the Senkaku Islands. Beijing claims the islands and also calls them Diaoyu.
North Korea is pushing its nuclear and missile development and has tested missiles 17 several times in the past year. There is increasing speculation that it may be preparing for another nuclear explosion.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.