US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Tokyo with his counterparts from Australia, India and Japan for two days of discussions.
They are there ostensibly to discuss regional security which is actually understood to mean how they can cooperate to counter China’s increasingly assertive behaviour.
They are also expected to discuss issues including the coronavirus pandemic and cyber security.
The Quadrilateral Initiative, informally named the Quad, first met in 2007 in the Philippine capital of Manila. When Beijing protested, the four said they were only discussing regional security and not targeting any particular country. They did not meet again until recently.
The current Quad meeting comes as all four countries seek to find ways of dealing with an increasingly confident and ambitious China, with whom the US, India and Australia are all experiencing strained relations.
Japan’s new prime minister Yoshihide Suga faces a more delicate balancing act. Tokyo has seen a steady improvement in ties with Beijing while also wanting to maintain close relationships with the US, India and Australia.
Suga told reporters on Monday that he would seek to “promote a free and open Indo-Pacific and build stable relations with neighbouring countries including China and Russia”.
China warned ahead of the meeting against “exclusive cliques” that target third parties.