The leaders of Japan and Italy agreed Tuesday on the launch of bilateral security talks to boost defense cooperation, amid Russia's prolonged war against Ukraine and China's growing military clout in the Indo-Pacific.
The idea of the talks involving the two countries' foreign and defense officials was discussed during the first in-person meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni held in Rome.
Japan has held so-called two-plus-two ministerial security talks with the United States, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Russia and the Philippines.
Kishida told a press conference after the summit that Tokyo and Rome have decided to start the security meeting "following progress in bilateral security and defense collaboration."
He also referred to a plan revealed last month of Japan, Italy and Britain jointly developing a next-generation fighter jet by 2035. The three-way project would be Japan's first defense equipment development with nations other than the United States, its security ally.
The two leaders also found each other firm in rejecting attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo by force and nuclear blackmailing, according to Kishida, in a veiled reference to Russian threats to use nuclear weapons in its war with Ukraine.
The leaders confirmed the need for the Group of Seven industrialized nations to show a "strong resolve" to maintain the rules-based, free and open international order, Kishida added.
Japan, Italy and other G-7 countries have slapped economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Kishida is on a weeklong trip to G-7 nations in Europe and North America. After visiting France and Italy, he is set to head for Britain, Canada and the United States to meet with their leaders and lay the groundwork for a G-7 summit to be held in Hiroshima in May.