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Japan defense minister supports US in South China Sea

Audrey McAvoy - Associated Press

HONOLULU — Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani is expressing his support for the U.S. Navy's sailing of a warship close to one of China's artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Nakatani met Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris in Hawaii on Tuesday.

Nakatani told reporters he told Harris that the U.S. military was at the forefront of the international community's efforts to protect open, free and peaceful oceans in the South China Sea.

He told reporters he expressed Japan's support for U.S. actions to Harris.

The U.S. Navy sailed a guided missile destroyer inside what China claims is a 12-mile territorial limit around Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands last month.

The move was a challenge to what the U.S. considers Beijing's "excessive claim" of sovereignty in those waters.

BEIJING

CHINA

HARRIS

HARRY HARRIS

JAPANESE DEFENSE MINISTER GEN NAKATANI

NAKATANI

PACIFIC COMMAND

SOUTH CHINA SEA

SPRATLY ISLANDS

SUBI REEF

TOLD

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