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International relations

Japan, US and Australia push back on China's South Pacific expansion

Tokyo advocates 'free and open Indo-Pacific' and promises economic aid

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, poses with the leaders of Pacific island countries in a photo session during their meeting in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in May 2018.

TOKYO -- A war of nerves involving Japan, the U.S., Australia and China is underway over island nations in the South Pacific Ocean such as Palau, Fiji and the Cook Islands, with attention focused on crucial sea lanes in the region.

The Japanese government compiled a report on the South Pacific on May 17, affirming its targets of "maintaining and promoting environments for realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific" and "ensuring the stability and safety of the region."

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