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PM Suga, US commander share 'deep concern' over China's maritime moves

Adm. Philip Davidson, left, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, poses with Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for a photo during his courtesy call at the prime minister's office on Oct. 22, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on Thursday shared "deep concern" over the situation in the East and South China seas, where China is growing more assertive in its territorial claims.

    "I hope that we can continue to deepen our coordination and cooperation in enhancing the deterrence and response capability of our alliance, which is the strongest ever in history," Suga told Adm. Philip Davidson, who was visiting Tokyo to meet with his Japanese counterparts.

    During their 10-minute meeting, the two shared "deep concern and strong objection to unilateral moves in the East China and South China seas that continue to and increasingly seek to change the status quo," according to the Foreign Ministry.

    The wording was a veiled reference to increasing maritime assertiveness by China as it sends coast guard ships near the Senkaku Islands, a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan, and continues to militarize artificial islands in disputed waters in the South China Sea despite protests from Southeast Asian neighbors.

    Suga and Davidson discussed other security issues, including weapons development by North Korea, which unveiled what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month, and agreed on close Japan-U.S. cooperation in responding to threats posed by the North, according to the ministry.

    They also touched on ways to ease the burden on Okinawa Prefecture of hosting U.S. military bases, with Suga stressing the importance of gaining the understanding of local residents.

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