Photo/IllutrationU.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks at a news conference in Arlington, Virginia, in August. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

U.S. officials raised the topic of deploying new ground-based missiles during talks with their Japanese counterparts, a military source said, but it was not clear if they suggested Japan as a possible deployment site.

The U.S. missile deployment plans surfaced after the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty ended in August. The Trump administration in February announced it was withdrawing from the INF, citing violations by Russia.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has indicated that the United States would seek to deploy the new missiles in the Asia-Pacific region over concerns about China’s moves to develop and deploy intermediate-range missiles.

According to a high-ranking officer of the U.S. military, senior U.S. government officials visited Japan on Oct. 18 and met with their counterparts in the Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry and National Security Secretariat to discuss various issues. The officer said deployment of the new intermediate-range missiles was one topic on the agenda.

The U.S. military officer was also asked about Japan’s recent decision not to join the U.S.-led alliance to patrol waters in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz. Instead, Japan plans to dispatch a Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel to the Gulf of Oman for study and research purposes.

The officer said he was confident Japan would contribute to peace and stability of dangerous areas in various parts of the world.