Japan and the USA consider means for to strengthen their military cooperation, the Japanese government spokesman said today, following press reports that US military operations in the archipelago are about to be stepped up as a counterweight to China.

“Japan and the US are discussing ways to strengthen their cooperation (…) in order to improve coordination and preparation,” Japanese government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters.

He added that “nothing has been decided regarding the structure of the American side, including the strengthening of the work of American forces in Japan,” he added.

The Financial Times newspaper and Japanese media, citing diplomatic sources, said that during the US-Japan summit in April in Washington, the two allied countries will review their bilateral security agreement.

According to the media, the aim is for Japan and the US to oppose China’s military expansion as well as the expansion of its influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

There are currently 54,000 US troops stationed at bases in Japan.

Tokyo is also increasing its military and defense spending to reach the goal of 2% of the country’s GDP, as defined by NATO, by 2027. At the same time, it has warned that China is “the biggest strategic challenge” for its security.

Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper reports in an article today that a permanent, joint US-Japan team may be set up based in Japan to ensure closer military coordination between the two countries. In addition, Japan is expected to cooperate with the US Indo-Pacific Command, based in Hawaii, on various decisions.

For its part, the Financial Times explained that “the Pentagon is still far from a decision”, but Tokyo and Washington want to strengthen their ties “to respond to what they see as a growing threat from China”.

The newspaper describes the plans as “the most significant improvement in the security alliance (between the US and Japan) since the signing of a defense agreement between them in 1960”.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will meet with US President Joe Biden on April 10, when he will pay an official visit to Washington.

The next day, always in Washington, the two countries will participate in a summit with the Philippines.