Japan and the US have agreed to consider revising guidelines on an existing security alliance. The move aims to deepen bilateral strategic consultations in the face of an increasingly aggressive China as it expands it military might amid a territorial row in the region.

Both countries have agreed to review the two countries’ defense roles, including formulating joint plans and promoting the joint use of defense bases, Senior Vice Defense Minister Akihisa Nagashima told AFP after a high-level meeting with US officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell.

The cooperation, initially forged in 1997 in the face of potential conflict in the Korean peninsula, is also seen as a consolidation of US President Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia” policy in his second term.

“There are lots of risks that were not really anticipated 15 years ago, including the issue of China’s maritime emergence,” Japan’s defense minister Satoshi Marimoto said.

“We want to start the process of reviewing the state of the Japan-US alliance once again by taking into consideration the qualitative changes in security risks.”

The agreement is a development from underlying tensions over debates on US military bases in Japan following a controversial deployment of Osprey planes and an alleged rape by US servicemen.