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Japanese, U.S. defense chiefs meet on enhancing security ties

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Sunday held talks here with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, centering on improving bilateral defense cooperation.

The two defense chiefs agreed to accelerate works related to revise Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines for the first time in 17 years as Japan attempts to reinterpret its pacifist constitution in a move to exercise rights of collective self- defense.

Hagel hailed Japan's engagement in the collective self-defense rights when he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday, as well as Abe's other moves on changing Japan's defense stance.

As to the controversial issue of relocating the U.S. key Futenma airbase in Okinawa, Japan's southernmost island prefecture, Hagel called for an early completion of a replacing facility for the airbase in Nago city, also in Okinawa.

The two defense chiefs also discussed reduction of burden on the island prefecture on holding a bulk of U.S. bases in Japan.

Hagel also said that the United States will deploy two Aegis- equipped warships to Japan by 2017 in an effort to help Japan defend missiles launched by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

[Source: Xinhua, Tokyo, 06Apr14]

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