TOKYO - The United States and Japan agreed on Thursday to modernize their defence alliance for the first time in 16 years to address growing concerns about North Korea's nuclear programme, global terrorism, cyber intrusions and other 21st century threats.
The move to modernize the US-Japanese defence alliance follows President Barack Obama's decision to strategically rebalance US forces to the Asia-Pacific region following a dozen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Washington's desire for Japan to take a greater role in its defence dovetails with the rise of nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has taken a more assertive approach toward such security issues as a territorial dispute with China and the threat from nearby North Korea.
"Our goal is a more balanced and effective alliance," US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told a news conference after the first "2+2" meeting to be held in Tokyo.
He was joined by Secretary of State John Kerry, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera.
The two countries pledged in a 10-page statement to rewrite their guidelines for security cooperation, begin rotational deployments of US Global Hawk reconnaissance drones to Japan and work to address challenges in cyberspace.