U.S. and Japan’s new defense strategy sends stark warning to China

A Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGDDF) Type 90 tank conducts near-target exercises during the annual exercise at the Manami Enewa Camp on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Enewa, on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan.  Over the next two weeks, dozens of tanks will be rolling over Hokkaido, a key military base for a country with perhaps the world's least-known but most powerful military.  (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

A tank practices near a target during an annual exercise at the Minami Enewa Camp on Dec. 7, 2021, in Enewa on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. (Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press)

President Biden will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to the White House on Friday, a meeting intended to signal further confrontation with China as Tokyo’s defenses turn south toward the Taiwan Strait.

Kishida is pushing for a larger defense role for Japan in the Indo-Pacific region as his country and the United States face threats on multiple fronts: a possible Chinese attack on Taiwan, a nuclear-armed North Korea and Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. Continuous attack.

Ahead of Kishida’s visit, the U.S. and Japan on Wednesday upgraded their security cooperation by equipping Tokyo with long-range missiles and refitting a U.S. Marine unit in Japan to counter Beijing’s military buildup in the region. Agreed to grade – this is the latest move by the administration. A long-standing desire to focus more on East and South Asia.

“Japan is doubling down on both itself and the US. Tokyo is building some more autonomous capabilities, but it’s also deepening the US-Japan alliance. That should be a clear signal to China,” said Zachary Cooper. , a senior colleague said. He studies U.S. defense strategy in Asia at the American Enterprise Institute. The agenda “is being driven from Tokyo rather than Washington, which is incredibly important as a symbol of sustainability and a healthy alliance relationship.”

The sit-in is the leaders’ first since Kishida announced historic reforms to his country’s national security strategy in December, moving Japan away from its World War II pacifist stance and China. Towards closer cooperation with Biden’s struggle to limit

Kishida’s government pledged to double the country’s defense spending to 2% of its gross domestic product by 2027, up from about 1%. Based on current GDP, the move would make Japan’s military budget the third largest in the world, behind the US and China. The new strategy also calls for the acquisition of a long-range missile system that would enable Tokyo to hit targets in China and North Korea in response to a potential attack.

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Chris Johnstone, the Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former Biden National Security Council official, said the Ukraine conflict has heightened global concerns about a possible Chinese attack on Taiwan and Japan’s need to reform its defense posture. Therefore, the pressure of tension has been stimulated.

Kishida’s visit to the White House comes on top of a week-long visit to some of her country’s key Western allies – France, Italy, Britain and Canada – as she prepares to host a Group of 7 summit in her hometown of Hiroshima in May. Will lay the foundation. With Hiroshima—destroyed by a U.S. atomic bomb in August 1945—as a backdrop, Kishda is expected to highlight nuclear disarmament as Russian President Vladimir Putin calls for a nuclear response in Ukraine. Action has been threatened.

Kishda, who has repeatedly warned that “today’s Ukraine could be tomorrow’s Asia,” is bolstering Western support for Tokyo’s security standoff with China and North Korea, a pro-Ukraine alliance of Biden’s. Depicting the construction work.

“Part of Kishda’s mission in visiting these countries at the start of the year is to focus the G-7 countries on the China challenge and what they need to counter it,” Johnstone said. Try it.”

The war on Taiwan gained new urgency in August when China fired ballistic missiles that fell off the island’s coast into Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The military exercises were in response to a visit by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) to Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory and has threatened to take by force.

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Washington and Tokyo are also concerned about North Korea’s increased missile tests. Pyongyang launched more than 90 ballistic and other missiles last year and is continuing such tests this year.

Like Biden, Kishida has defied expectations on the global stage despite grappling with domestic political struggles.

Biden, hampered by inflation and low approval ratings, orchestrated a renewed NATO alliance, forcing European countries to increase their defense spending and limit dependence on Russian oil and gas. What did Kishida faces public outrage over political scandal in his cabinet and the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The cabinet’s approval rating fell to 33 percent in January, down 3 percentage points from the previous month and the lowest since the prime minister took office in October 2021, according to a poll by public broadcaster NHK. Is.

But Kishida, who belongs to the progressive wing of the Liberal Democratic Party, seems to have succeeded where the hawkish Abe failed, Cooper said.

“Many expected Kishida not to push through these kinds of sweeping changes, but he is making them despite his current domestic political struggles, surprising many observers,” Cooper said. “He’s following Shinzo Abe’s playbook of being very active globally.”

Johnstone said Biden’s approach to the Indo-Pacific is not only to strengthen alliances but to empower allies through economic and defense initiatives. The president has prioritized the Quad, an alliance that includes the United States, Australia, Japan and India, and has vowed to increase Washington’s cooperation with South Korea on defense, supply chain resilience and space exploration. Last year, it launched a security alliance with Britain and Australia, known as AUKUS, to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

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The United States and Japan have agreed to substantially build and modernize a military alliance aimed at countering “unprecedented” aggression by China as well as the region’s other major players, North Korea and Russia. is to fight hostilities by

Although Biden and experts warn that a Chinese attack on Taiwan is not inevitable, simulated war games conducted by a prominent Washington think tank have concluded that any military conflict with China in defense of the sovereign island is unlikely. “Japan is the linchpin”.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said Wednesday that the U.S. will help Japan develop a “counter-strike capability,” or offensive weapons, to attack enemy positions, and to include advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. will rebuild its Marine deployment in Japan for Austin said the unit on Okinawa Island would also be equipped with “anti-ship” capabilities in anticipation of attacks by China on the Taiwan Strait.

Austin and Secretary of State Antony J. Blanken held talks with their Japanese counterparts Yasukazu Hamada and Yoshimasa Hayashi prior to their visit to Kishida.

The two countries also agreed to joint research and exploration of the moon and outer space, signaling a new realm of potential conflict with China or other powers.

“We are constantly expanding our horizons of cooperation — even beyond our own planet,” Blanken said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday night, the two countries clarified their belief that China poses a threat.

“China’s foreign policy seeks to reshape the international system to its advantage and use China’s growing political, economic, military and technological power to that end,” the statement said. “This behavior is of grave concern to the coalition and the entire international community, and represents the greatest strategic challenge in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.


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