TOKYO - Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on Thursday welcomed Britain's plan to dispatch an aircraft carrier strike group to waters in the western Pacific amid China's growing maritime assertiveness.
During a video conference with his British counterpart Ben Wallace, Kishi said Japan will work closely with the country for the dispatch of the strike group, centered on the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, according to the Defense Ministry.
The carrier, commissioned in 2017, is Britain's largest warship, weighing 65,000 tons and measuring 280 meters in length. It is expected to carry out joint exercises with Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the US military during its stay in areas including off the Nansei Islands chain in southwestern Japan.
Kishi and Wallace agreed that the two countries will "strongly oppose" any unilateral attempt to change the status quo in the East and South China seas through force, according to the Japanese ministry.
China has aggressively pressed its territorial claims in those bodies of water, raising tensions with Tokyo and a number of other Asian countries.
Kishi and Wallace agreed to strengthen a free and open Indo-Pacific and defense cooperation, and work toward holding "two-plus-two" talks involving their countries' foreign ministers at an early date, the ministry said.
They also reaffirmed they will work toward the goal of North Korea ridding itself of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles in a "complete, verifiable and irreversible manner," it said.