Minister: Japan to increase activities in South China Sea

Matthew Pennington (Associated Press) - September 16, 2016 - 7:00am

WASHINGTON — Japan's defense minister says its forces will increase engagement in the South China Sea through training cruises with the U.S. Navy and multilateral exercises with regional navies.

Newly appointed Defense Minister Tomomi Inada says Japan will also help build the capacity of coastal nations. She spoke ahead of her first meeting with Pentagon chief Ash Carter on Thursday in Washington.

Japan is a U.S. ally and not among the countries claiming territory in the disputed South China Sea but shares U.S. concern about China's assertive behavior there.

Japan has a separate territorial dispute with China over unoccupied islands they both claim farther north in the East China Sea.

Inada says she is open to constructive dialogue with China on preventing collisions between their forces at sea and in the air.

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