Japan's foreign minister promises a stronger military in visit to US carrier

US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi at a joint news conference on April 23, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

ABOARD USS LINCOLN (REUTERS) - Japan's foreign minister promised his country would bolster its military to help the United States maintain regional security during a visit on Saturday (April 23) to a US aircraft carrier patrolling Asian waters.

"Today, I was able to experience first hand the front line of national security," Mr Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters in the hangar deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln sailing in waters south of Tokyo.

Japan will "significantly strengthen" its defence capabilities and work closely with the US, he added.

Mr Hayashi spoke 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. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province to be reunified, by force if necessary.

Japan has also expressed concern about Beijing's deepening security ties with Moscow, that have included joint drills in waters surrounding Japan.

China has said its intentions in Asia are peaceful.

Mr Hayashi flew out to the aircraft carrier from Tokyo with US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, who warned that the invasion of Ukraine, which Russian describes as a "special operation", posed security risks in regions far beyond Europe, including in the Indo Pacific.

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

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