• The Financial District


Japan's Defense Minister Taro Kono and US counterpart Mark Esper agreed in Guam on Saturday that they will keep China's maritime assertiveness in the South and East China seas in check, the Kyodo news agency reported late on August 29, 2020.

"As for the South and East China seas, we confirmed that Japan and the United States will strongly oppose countries unilaterally changing the status quo by force," Kono said in an online press conference after meeting with Esper at Andersen Air Force Base. Beijing is involved in territorial disputes with Tokyo and a number of other Asian neighbors in the waters.

Pentagon officials said China fired four ballistic missiles into the South China Sea on Wednesday in an apparent warning to US reconnaissance planes flying near areas where Beijing has been conducting naval drills. Kono told Esper the launch could help destabilize the region and that he will monitor the situation with concern, according to a Japanese Defense Ministry official.

At the outset of the talks, Esper condemned China's behavior in the waters, saying, "We are steadfast in our opposition to Beijing's destabilizing activities in the region." Kono said in response, "I think the world has been changing drastically. Not just because of COVID-19, but because there are some attempts to change the status quo by force and coercion." Kono and Esper also agreed to establish a new missile defense system after Tokyo halted plans to deploy the costly US Aegis Ashore missile defense system in June 2020.

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