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International relations

Japan makes its move in Indian Ocean power game

Defense minister tours Sri Lanka as part of drive to check China

Sailors aboard the Akebono, a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel. The ship called at the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota in April.   © Reuters

COLOMBO -- Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera's groundbreaking trip to Sri Lanka this week has signaled that Tokyo is wading deeper into the Indian Ocean, where India and China are increasingly vying for control and influence.

Onodera's visit, from Monday to Wednesday, is the first by a Japanese defense chief to the South Asian island. It is to be capped with a Wednesday afternoon stop at the deep-water port of Hambantota -- an important foothold for China's expanding Belt and Road Initiative.

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