TOKYO — The United States and Japan agreed Thursday to broaden their security alliance, expanding Japan's role while trying to show American determination to remain a dominant presence in the region.
The agreement, which will position surveillance drones in Japan for the first time, underscored the countries' efforts to respond to growing challenges from China and North Korea at a time of budget constraints. It also included some of the clearest signals yet that the United States backs Japan's increasing though still limited moves to strengthen its military, and its military ties in Asia, as a counterbalance to China's own buildup.
The agreement also calls for construction of a new missile-defense radar system in Japan and joint efforts to combat cyberattack threats, among other steps. It was signed during a visit by the secretaries of state and defense, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, who are meeting with their Japanese counterparts.
Both Tokyo and Washington are working to revamp a security alliance that dates to the Cold War. The United States hopes to signal that its increased military, economic and diplomatic focus on Asia will go on despite the possibility of deep cuts in Pentagon budgets. For Japan, the agreement appeared to give U.S. approval to its still modest expansion of its military capabilities, as Japan's new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, seeks to put his country on a more equal footing with its longtime protector.
A key issue was how to respond to China, which has been sending coast guard ships to contest Japan's control of a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. The agreement announced Thursday says the United States and Japan should be ready to deal with "coercive and destabilizing behaviors," and called on China to adhere to international norms.
Another significant step was the decision to let the United States place a new X-band radar system in Kyogamisaki, near Kyoto, to better protect both countries against threats from North Korea.
For its part, Japan said it would bolster its security capabilities by creating a U.S.-style National Security Council, and would expand assistance to Southeast Asian countries to help them resist Chinese territorial claims.