TOKYO -- The Japanese defense minister and the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on Monday affirmed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait amid growing Chinese military activity near the island.
The show of unity by Nobuo Kishi and Adm. Philip Davidson comes as China continues to send military jets into Taiwan's air defense identification zone. Twenty-five aircraft entered the zone on Monday in the largest daily incursion since Taiwan began reporting such activities last year, according to the island's defense ministry.
"The U.S.-Japan alliance must stand ready to confront all emerging threats to peace and stability, and help protect an international order based on the rule of law," he said at their 20-minute meeting here.
He added that the two countries will continue efforts toward a free and open Indo-Pacific in accordance with international law.
"The defense partnership between Japan and the U.S. has deepened rapidly," Kishi said. "We have fostered strong trust between the countries."
Davidson, to be replaced by Adm. John Aquilino, now commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said during a U.S. Senate hearing in March that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan could occur within the next six years.
Davidson earlier met with Gen. Koji Yamazaki, chief of staff of the Japan Self-Defense Forces Joint Staff. "The current security landscape faces a number of challenges, from China modernizing its military and enacting its new coast guard law," which elevated the body to quasi-military status, "to North Korea's missile launches," Yamazaki told Davidson.
Davidson on Monday was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan's highest honors, for his contribution to Japan's defense.