Australia, Japan, U.S. defense chiefs meet in Singapore

The defense ministers of Australia, Japan and the United States met Friday in Singapore to deepen trilateral cooperation to ensure peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region in the face of China's military rise and assertiveness.

Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera hopes to agree with Australian Defense Minister David Johnston and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel not to tolerate China's attempts to change the status quo, as regional tensions have risen to a new high after Beijing unilaterally established an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea in defiance of Vietnam, Japanese officials said.

The latest spat is a worrying sign for Japan, whose relations with China remain frayed over the ownership of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, claimed by China as Diaoyu.

Onodera will likely explain to his counterparts that Japan remains vigilant after Chinese fighters came as close as 30 meters to one of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces aircraft approached by the warplanes last week, the officials said.

Japan's review of a self-imposed ban on defending allies under armed attack will be another agenda item, they added.

Under the current interpretation of the pacifist Constitution, Japan cannot come to the rescue of allies such as the United States should it be attacked. The use of what is known as the right to collective self-defense is taken as going beyond "the minimum" allowed for Japan to defend itself.