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Japan’s defense minister in isles for talks

    Japanese Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani visited the USS Arizona Memorial on Monday to lay a wreath. Saluting at left is Adm. Scott H. Swift

Japan’s defense minister has arrived in Hawaii to meet senior U.S. military officials this week.

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani laid a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial on Monday and was given a tour of a ballistic missile defense radar system and a guided missile cruiser at Pearl Harbor.

On Tuesday, Nakatani was scheduled to meet with Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command.

The Pacific Command said Nakatani will discuss "the continually evolving security environment in the region," including the East and South China seas. Ballistic missile defense is also on the agenda.

This is Nakatani’s first visit to Pacific Command headquarters since Japan’s parliament approved legislation loosening post-World War II constraints on its military.

The new law would allow Japanese troops to intercept a missile flying over its territory that is headed for U.S. territory. Under the previous rules it could shoot down a missile only when aimed at Japan.

The new law would also allow Japanese forces to help defend an American warship under attack.

The legislation sparked sizable protests and debate in Japan about whether the country should shift away from its pacifist ways to face growing security challenges.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the law was needed to protect people’s lives and prevent a war.

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