Japan's defense minister said Tuesday he will visit the United States this week and hold talks with his U.S. counterpart to reaffirm the bilateral alliance amid the mounting threat from China in the Indo-Pacific region.

Yasukazu Hamada is scheduled to travel to the United States to meet on Wednesday with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. It will be the first time they have met in person since Hamada replaced Nobuo Kishi as Japanese defense minister in early August.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada holds a press conference in Tokyo on Sept. 13, 2022. (Kyodo)

"We will exchange views on the security environment surrounding the Japan-U.S. alliance" at the planned meeting, Hamada told a news conference.

The talks come as tensions have intensified in the region over Taiwan following a trip to the self-ruled democratic island in early August by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the third-highest-ranking U.S. official.

China and Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 as a result of a civil war. Beijing regards the island as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Hamada also said he will engage Austin in candid discussions on specific steps that can be taken to strengthen shared defense capabilities given Japan's ongoing review of its national security strategy and two other key defense documents.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government aims to update the three defense papers by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has pledged to double Japan's defense spending to 2 percent or more of gross domestic product, a level on a par with North Atlantic Treaty Organization member states, over the next five years.

During the planned meeting between Hamada and Austin at the Pentagon near Washington, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and North Korea's missile and nuclear development are also expected to be on the agenda, according to a Japanese Defense Ministry official.

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