TOKYO — U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton held talks with Japanese officials on Monday, presumably to discuss a U.S.-led military coalition to safeguard shipping in the Strait of Hormuz amid escalating tensions in the region.

Japan, whose use of force is limited to self-defense of itself and its allies under its pacifist constitution, is cautious about a military coalition.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated Monday that he wants to learn more about Washington's intentions before deciding if or how Japan can cooperate, hinting that he is not planning to join the effort immediately.

"In order to ease tensions, we hope to make Japan's own effort first," Abe said. "We have to wait until we hear more about what the U.S. is talking about, as we don't have a clear picture of its purposes and other details."

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, right, and U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, left, shake hands prior to their meeting in Tokyo Monday, July 22, 2019. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, right, and U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, left, shake hands prior to their meeting in Tokyo Monday, July 22, 2019. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Bolton, after meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Monday, said they "covered a lot of ground." Asked if they discussed Iran, he did not elaborate but hinted they did.

"We talked about all the issues that confronted us from a national security point of view," he said.

Japanese media said Bolton might also discuss an escalating spat between Japan and South Korea over trade and wartime labor issues.