By MARI YAMAGUCHI
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s prime minister says he plans to visit Lithuania in July to attend a NATO leaders’ summit as his country steps up cooperation with the Western organization. Fumio Kishida’s announcement Wednesday ccomes amid China’s increasingly assertive military activity in the Indo-Pacific region. Japan has been strengthening ties with NATO against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and concerns that it may embolden China in East Asia. Kishida stressed the importance of developing a “constructive and stable” relationship with Beijing while his country cooperates with its key ally, the United States.