TOKYO: Japan and the United States (US) will discuss strengthening defenses against cyber-attacks, reports said on Monday, as Tokyo looks to play a more active role in global security.
At talks in Japan later this week, the foreign and defense ministers from both countries will undertake their first review for 15 years of how their security alliance operates.
Measures to counter cyber-attacks will be high on the agenda, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.
The Sankei Shimbun carried a similar story, adding “cooperation in space will be another important issue.”
Tokyo is looking to reassert itself on the global stage, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling for a more self-confident military stance.
Japan is particularly concerned about what it considers China’s dangerous behavior around the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands, an archipelago in the East China Sea that Beijing claims and refers to as the Diaoyu islands.
Abe, a conservative who is the politically strongest Japanese leader in nearly a decade, has stepped up defense spending and advocated a firm line.
In a speech to the Hudson Institute in New York last week, he said Japan should no longer be a “weak link” in global security, or for its ally the United States.
The US is particularly concerned about the threat from cyber-attacks, which it has said largely emanate from China.
China insists it is also the victim of hacking and points to accusations made by US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, who said US spies had worked their way into the billion-plus nation’s Internet network.
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kelly will meet their Japanese counterparts Itsunori Onodera and Fumio Kishida on Thursday.
They will renew overall operational arrangements for the Tokyo-Washington alliance, which were last amended in 1997, officials have said.
The so-called 2+2 meeting “will take up a wide range of issues over Japan-US defense cooperation as the security environment surrounding Japan is increasingly severe,” Onodera said on Friday.
The meeting will also include a review of issues around the planned relocation of a base in urban Okinawa, a thorny subject that has been stalled for years by local opposition.
Tokyo and Washington last year agreed that Japan will meet up to $2.8 billion of the $8.6 billion cost of moving 9,000 US Marines and their families outside Okinawa to Guam and other parts of the world.
While the presence of thousands of US military personnel in Okinawa is a sore point for many islanders, officially pacifist Japan relies on protection provided by them.
“This is the first time the ‘2+2’ meeting will be held in Tokyo, and I think this will send a message to East Asia that the Japan-US alliance is functioning well,” Onodera said.