In a major revision of its defense priorities, Japan say it needs to focus on the rise of China and not the Cold War threat of Russia.
The guidelines announced on December 26 also call for a stronger alliance with the U.S. -- Japan's biggest ally -- and expanded security networks with regional partners, including South Korea and Australia.
Japan's updated defense policy comes amid regional tensions over North Korea, which last month sparked alarm by shelling a South Korean island and disclosing advances in uranium enrichment.
In Beijing, Chinese officials told the visiting U.S. Secretary of State James Steinberg that the two big powers should cooperate more in defusing tension over North Korea.
Separately, Bill Richardson, the governor of the U.S. state of New Mexico and a former official in the Clinton administration, is on a private visit to North Korea, where he will meet officials and hopes to ease tension.
compiled from agency reports