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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden agreed Friday to strengthen the security alliance between the two countries, with Abe stressing his efforts to improve Tokyo's security posture by reviewing its defense guidelines.
During a meeting in Singapore, where the two happened to be at the same time, Biden noted the importance of Japan's strategic role as the United States moves to "rebalance" its military assets toward the Asia-Pacific region, a Japanese official said.
The vice president also said he sees it as important for the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, in which both Japan and the United States are involved, to succeed given the growing importance of the region.
Biden also "stressed the importance of moving forward expeditiously toward a high-standard agreement to deepen trade and investment ties bilaterally as well as across the region," the White House said.
Abe asked Biden to urge U.S. senators to appropriate or unfreeze sufficient funds to enable the planned transfer of U.S. Marine personnel to Guam from Okinawa Prefecture, according to the Japanese official.
Abe noted that Japan is working to strengthen its security apparatus, including his government's legislative efforts to establish an institution similar to the U.S. National Security Council.
The prime minister also welcomed the recent nomination of Caroline Kennedy as new U.S. ambassador to Japan, adding that he hopes that the daughter of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy will be successful.
He also conveyed to Biden his hopes of holding another summit meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, following their last meeting in Washington in February, according to the official.
In the meeting, Biden reaffirmed the U.S. position on the East China Sea, including its alliance commitments, the White House said, suggesting that the vice president reassured Japan that the United States will defend Japan in the event of an armed attack on the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands claimed by China.
Biden also reiterated the U.S. view that "all sides should take steps to reduce tensions" in the region.
On North Korea, the two leaders agreed on the importance of close coordination as well as engagement with other partners in the region, the White House said.
Abe was in Singapore as part of his first trip abroad after Sunday's House of Councillors election, in which his ruling coalition scored a resounding victory, and Biden was travelling to India and Singapore this week.
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