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Japan, U.S. eye meeting of defense, foreign ministers in Oct.


Japan and the United States plan to hold a meeting of their foreign and defense ministers possibly in October, where they may agree on revising the bilateral defense cooperation guidelines, a Japanese government source said Thursday.

To prepare for the so-called "two-plus-two" meeting, Tokyo and Washington are scheduled to hold talks at the vice ministerial level on July 25 in Tokyo, said the source.

The preparatory talks will likely take up Japan's long-term defense program guidelines that Tokyo is planning to compile by the end of the year, the source added.

Faced with increased security threats, the government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering enabling Japan to attack an enemy base and beefing up defense capabilities for remote islands under the guidelines. Tokyo is expected to make a progress report to the U.S. side on the guidelines under preparation.

Known for his hawkish stance, Abe is eager to revise the U.S.-drafted pacifist Constitution and allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of an ally under attack.

Tensions have heightened in the East China Sea as China has continued to send surveillance ships there in apparent protest of Japan's purchase last year of some of the Senkaku Islands that have been administered by Japan and claimed by China.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed during their April meeting to hold the two-plus-two meeting by the end of the year.