Tokyo, Aug 7 To counter Iran and China, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, who is in Japan, has asked Tokyo to consider taking part in passage of ships in the Strait of Hormuz and accused China of “pursuing a strategy of military aggression” and “predatory economics” that is destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region.
Mark Esper has urged Japan to consider taking part in a coalition to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz as Washington is busy garnering support for its efforts to counter Iranian activities in the strategic route.
“Any and every country that has an interest in freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce needs to really consider [being] involved in this type of monitoring of the strait,” he told reporters on Tuesday where he was meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya.
Esper discussed the escalation of tensions between Beijing and Washington, the US-Japan bilateral alliance and the latest missile tests by North Korea.
“China continues to destabilize the region. Their military aggression and calculated strategy of predatory economics violates the international rules-based order that we are trying to uphold,” Japanese news agency Kyodo quoted Esper as saying.
He met his Japanese counterpart, Takeshi Iwaya, on Wednesday and discussed bilateral security ties as well as the alliance the two countries have with South Korea at a time when relations between Seoul and Tokyo have fallen to their lowest level in recent decades owing to a historical dispute.
The US and Japanese Defence Ministers discussed the possibility of Japan joining the US-led initiative to form a naval mission to escort tankers in the Persian Gulf, in the current context of tensions with Iran.