Japan and Australia to deepen ties amid North Korea tension

TOKYO (AP) — The Australian foreign and defense ministers are in Tokyo for talks with their Japanese counterparts on the growing North Korean nuclear and missile threat and other security and economic issues.

The two sides say they will discuss deepening defense cooperation at the ministers’ meeting later Thursday.

Ahead of the talks, Defense Minister Marise Payne met with Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada late Wednesday.

Inada said the current North Korea situation makes cooperation between their two militaries particularly crucial. They agreed to expand joint exercises and arms-equipment trade.

China and the South China Sea are also expected to be on the agenda when foreign ministers Fumio Kishida of Japan and Australia’s Julie Bishop join the defense ministers for the meeting.