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International relations

US and Japan defense chiefs to meet in Guam this month

Kono and Esper to discuss Aegis Ashore alternatives and China strategy

Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono, right, last met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in January.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are expected to meet in Guam on Aug. 29 for their first meeting in seven months.

Washington and Tokyo are finalizing the schedule for the meeting. The two men are expected to discuss Japan's decision to explore alternatives to the Aegis Ashore missile shield, whose deployment was halted because of the costs. Beefed-up deterrence capabilities will likely be on the agenda as well.

Kono and Esper will share views on strategy regarding China, which has been stepping up activities in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

This will be Kono's first trip out of Japan since February. He had refrained from traveling abroad amid the coronavirus outbreak.

As a precaution, Kono will fly to Guam on a Japan Self-Defense Forces aircraft. Kono last met Esper in the U.S. in January to reaffirm the six-decade alliance between the two countries.

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