Tokyo, Oct 22 (efe-epa).- Japan’s prime minister and the commander of the United States Armed Forces in the Indo-Pacific on Thursday jointly expressed their concern over ongoing Chinese naval maneuvers and territorial claims in the region.
Yoshihide Suga and Philip S. Davidson held a meeting in Tokyo to discuss bilateral defense strategies in the context of Beijing’s military presence in the region, according to a press release from the Japanese foreign ministry.
Suga said the meeting served “toward the strengthening of the deterrence and coping power of the Japan-US alliance, which has never been stronger, and the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific” region.
“Both sides expressed serious concern and strong opposition to the ongoing and strengthened attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and South China Sea,” the statement added.
The pair discussed the movement of Chinese navy and coast guard vessels in the region, including near the remote Senkaku Islands.
Japan had denounced an increasing number of Chinese incursions into Senkaku territorial waters. Last week Japanese officials said two Chinese ships remained in the area for two days.
The island group, located in the East China Sea, are under Japanese administration but are historically claimed by both China and Taiwan.
China claims sovereignty over the islands which it calls Diaoyu on the same historical bases as Taiwan, although it is currently controlled by Japan after it received the territory from the United States in 1971.
The islands are a group of eight uninhabited islets, with a total area of 7 square kilometres (3 sq miles), located 170 kilometres (106 miles) northeast of Taiwan, and have been a traditional fishing spot for the Taiwanese.
They are located about 430 km southwest of the Japanese archipelago of Ryukyu.
Suga and the high-ranking US military officials also discussed the security concerns raised by North Korea’s recent unveiling of its latest inter-continental ballistic missile.
Japan said it would work “closely with the US” in that regard. EFE-EPA