Japan's new Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said Friday he has quit as a senior member of a cross-party group of lawmakers dedicated to boosting Japan-Taiwan relations.

Kihara told a press conference that he resigned as secretary general for the group before he officially became defense chief on Wednesday in a Cabinet reshuffle so that he could "devote" himself to his new duties.

New Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara attends a press conference in Tokyo on Sept. 13, 2023, after a Cabinet reshuffle. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

When asked about his view on the "one-China" principle, Kihara said, "Japan is consistent in maintaining working relations with Taiwan on a nongovernmental basis, based on a joint communique with China in 1972."

In the joint document, Tokyo acknowledged Beijing as China's sole legitimate government and severed diplomatic ties with Taipei.

As part of the group's activities, Kihara visited Taiwan in August last year along with Keiji Furuya, head of the group who met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Furuya and Kihara are lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Kihara succeeded Yasukazu Hamada as defense minister. The 54-year-old House of Representatives member previously served as a special national security adviser to former prime ministers Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga.

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