POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 23, 2013
The top U.S. military commander in the Pacific hosted Japan's most senior uniformed officer this week for talks on regional security and strengthening the U.S.-Japanese alliance.
Adm. Samuel Locklear from U.S. Pacific Command and Japan Self Defense Forces' joint chief, Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, met Thursday and Friday.
The meetings were a regularly scheduled consultation between the two allies, said Staff Sgt. Carl Hudson, a Pacific Command spokesman. He said the meetings are similar to regular discussions the U.S. also holds with allies the Philippines and Australia.
The dialogue "offers these leaders an opportunity to discuss ways to deepen operational cooperation and to improve the effectiveness of bilateral operations," Hudson said in an email Thursday.
Kyodo News reported Locklear and Iwasaki were to discuss joint operation plans for any contingency involving islands claimed by both Japan and China, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. Kyodo said Locklear and Iwasaki were expected to agree to accelerate the drafting of the plans.
Asked whether Locklear and Iwasaki would discuss how their two countries would respond to any contingency over the islands, Hudson said the United States does not take sides in territorial disputes and encourages all parties to find a peaceful resolu-tion.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday that China was "seriously concerned" about Japanese media reports saying Japan and the U.S. were updating their military defense plans involving the disputed islands.