Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said on Saturday she hoped a visit by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to South Korea and Japan this week, his first overseas trip since taking office, would lead to deeper security ties among the three countries.
Inada spoke at the start of talks with Mattis, who on Friday reaffirmed Washington's commitment to its mutual defense treaty with Japan when he met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.
"The security situation in the Asia-Pacific is becoming increasingly severe," Inada said, adding she wanted to strengthen the US-Japan alliance.
"South Korea is an important neighbor," Inada added. "I want to link Secretary Mattis' visit to Japan and South Korea to the further deepening of defense cooperation among the three countries."