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U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (left) and Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada.
International relations

Time's up for soft China policy

US defense chief sees more active role in South China Sea

HIROYUKI AKITA, Nikkei commentator | China

TOKYO -- The new U.S. defense secretary is deeply distrustful of China. Speaking to Japanese government officials last week, James Mattis apparently likened Beijing's quest for regional influence to imperial China's subjugation of its neighbors.

China's activity in the South and East China seas is becoming "increasingly confrontational," Mattis told a joint news conference with Japanese counterpart Tomomi Inada here Saturday morning. Mattis, appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida the day prior on his first trip to Japan as secretary of defense.

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