07:25 GMT30 March 2020
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    Japan will assume a larger military role in the US-Japanese alliance, US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a joint statement on Friday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — "[T]he United States will strengthen its presence in the region, and Japan will assume larger roles and responsibilities in the alliance," the statement said. "The United States and Japan will continue to implement and expand defense cooperation as laid out in the 2015 US-Japan defense guidelines."

    Abe and Trump also agreed in the statement that the US-Japan Security Treaty covered the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea islands, known in China as the Daioyu Islands.

    "The two leaders affirmed that Article 5 of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security covers the Senkaku Islands. They oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan's administration of these islands," the joint statement said.

    The United States and Japan would deepen their cooperation to safeguard the peace and stability of the East China Sea, the statement added.

    Trump and Abe also agreed to avoid actions to escalate tensions in the South China Sea.

    "The United States and Japan also call on countries concerned to avoid actions that would escalate tensions in the South China Sea, including the militarization of outposts, and to act in accordance with international law," the statement noted.

    On 23 November 2013, Beijing set up an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone which includes the Senkaku Islands. However, in September 2012, the Japanese government purchased three of the islands from an alleged private owner, setting off major protests in China.

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