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Japan’s foreign minister promises a stronger military in visit to U.S. carrier

Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs promised his country would bolster its military strength to help the United States maintain regional security during a visit Saturday (April 23) to a U.S. aircraft carrier patrolling Asian waters.

“Japan will significantly strengthen its defence capabilities and continue to work closely with the United States, in order to further strengthen deterrence and coping capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance,” Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln sailing in waters south of Tokyo.

Hayashi’s comments come amid concern in Japan that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which it sees as an affront to international diplomatic norms, could encourage neighbouring China to use military muscle to win control of Taiwan and threaten nearby Japanese islands.

Japan has also expressed concern about Beijing’s deepening security ties with Moscow, including joint drills in waters surrounding Japan, while China has said its intentions in Asia are peaceful.

Hayashi flew out to the aircraft carrier with U.S. Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, who warned that the invasion of Ukraine, which Russia describes as a “special operation”, posed security risks in regions far beyond Europe, including in the Indo-Pacific.

The two watched carrier flight operations from the deck of the Lincoln, which had just sailed from the Sea of Japan close to the Korean peninsula where it had conducted naval exercises with Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force following the latest missile launch by North Korea.

(Production: Tim Kelly, Irene Wang)

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