The head of the U.S. Defense Department says Washington plans to send two more missile defense warships to Japan to counter the threat posed by North Korea's actions.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a news conference in Tokyo Sunday after meeting with his Japanese counterpart (, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera,) that two AEGIS missile defense ships will be sent to Japan by 2017, bolstering the U.S. missile defense force to seven ships.
The announcement came as North Korea once again ratcheted up tensions with its neighbors by continuing to threaten additional missile and nuclear tests.
On the eve of a trip to China, Hagel also called on Beijing to use its power responsibly in regional relations and territorial disputes.
The Pentagon chief is on a 10-day tour across the Asia Pacific to reassure allies that the United States is committed to its mutual defense treaties in the region.
He said Saturday that Russia's annexation of Crimea and troop movements along the border with Ukraine have sparked worries among allies in the Pacific region and elsewhere.