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Japan’s Defense Minister and the US commander of the Indo-Pacific region reaffirm close ties

Japan’s Defense Minister and the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command have agreed to work closely to strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Defense Minister Kihara Minoru held talks with Admiral John Aquilino at his ministry in Tokyo on Monday. The American commander will leave his post in May.

Kihara expressed gratitude for an offer of assistance from the US in the search for missing crew members of two Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopters that crashed in the Pacific Ocean during a night training on Saturday.

Kihara said it is sad that Aquilino’s term is coming to an end. But he said he sincerely hopes that the US military and Self-Defense Forces will continue their efforts to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Aquilino was referring to the support the US received from the Self-Defense Forces following a fatal crash of a US Osprey aircraft off the coast of southwestern Japan last November. He said the United States now stands ready to support Japan in the search and rescue of its military personnel.

Aquilino also said he is confident that his successor, Admiral Samuel Paparo, will continue to work with the Self-Defense Forces to further strengthen the alliance.