Tokyo, Oct 6 (efe-epa).- The United States secretary of state and his Japanese counterpart pledged in Tokyo on Tuesday to strengthen bilateral security cooperation in the Indian and Pacific region amid China’s growing influence.
Mike Pompeo and Toshimitsu Motegi held a meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday that was centered on reaffirming cooperation between the two countries in the field of security and defense under the new Japanese government headed by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga since mid-September.
“The US has every reason to believe he will strengthen the alliance under his new role,” Pompeo said in his address before the start of the meeting.
Pompeo recalled that Suga himself referred to the bilateral alliance as the “foundation of regional peace and stability,” and expressed support for Japan’s vision of a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” a strategy aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the region.
Motegi, for his part, said that the two countries must take the lead “in enforcing and realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Both chancellors thereby reiterated the stance taken by Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, and backed by Washington in response to China’s growing military operations in Pacific waters, which have caused concern in Japan and other countries in the region.
In the meeting, Pompeo and Motegi also expressed their willingness to continue collaborating in the face of the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile program as well as trying to resolve the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the Pyongyang regime decades ago.
Pompeo will also pay a courtesy visit to Japan’s new prime minister on Tuesday and wrap up the official agenda of his day-long trip to Japan with another meeting as well as a working dinner with Motegi and Australian and Indian foreign ministers, Marise Payne and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar respectively.
The meeting in Tokyo between the foreign ministers of the so called “Quad” group of countries – Japan, Australia, India and the US – is the first time they will meet in person since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and will also focus on security and defense cooperation in the Indian and Pacific region.
Pompeo had originally planned a two-day visit to Japan followed by trips to Mongolia and South Korea but he altered his plans after finding out on Friday that US President Donald Trump had tested positive for the virus. EFE-EPA