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Austin, who hosted Japanese Defense Minister Kihara Minoru at the US Department of Defense (Pentagon), spoke at a joint press conference.

"We face significant shared challenges, including China's coercive behavior, North Korea's dangerous provocations, and Russia's reckless war against Ukraine," Austin said.

Against these dangers, Austin said, the United States remains steadfastly committed to defending Japan.

Emphasizing that bilateral relations are improving, Austin said, "This is a time of historic acceleration in the US-Japan alliance. The strategic alignment between the two countries is unprecedented."

Reminding that the leaders of the US, South Korea and Japan came together at the Camp David Summit in August against the North Korean threat, Austin emphasized that "we are determined to fulfill the routes drawn for mutual defense."

Drawing attention to the joint exercise organized by Japan, the US, Australia and the Philippines in the South China Sea in September, Austin stated that Japan welcomes close cooperation with allies such as Australia.

Kihara announces early delivery of Tomahawk cruise missiles

Commenting on the meeting, Japanese Minister Kihara told reporters that his country will take delivery of US-made Tomahawk cruise missiles in fiscal year 2025, one year earlier than planned.

The Japanese Minister explained that the earlier procurement will contribute to the earlier and substantial strengthening of the country's defense capacities.