On Friday, the US and Japan expressed deep worry about China’s rising power and committed to working together to counter attempts to destabilize the area, particularly increasing defense threats.
The two allies’ remarks, made in a joint statement following a virtual “two-plus-two” meeting of their foreign and defense ministers, underline how growing concern about China – and rising tensions over Taiwan – has heightened Japan’s security responsibility.
The ministers voiced worry at their meeting that China’s efforts to “undermine the rules-based system” posed “political, economic, military, and technical risks to the region and the globe,” according to the joint statement.
“They agreed to cooperate to dissuade and, if required, respond to destabilizing actions in the area,” the statement stated.
The ministers also expressed “severe and persistent concerns” about human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang and Hong Kong areas, as well as the need of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
While Japan’s pacifist government maintains tight economic connections with China, Tokyo is growing concerned about Beijing’s possible action against democratic Taiwan.
“This is obviously a joint message reflecting a common concern, not a case of US arm-twisting to get Japan to sign onto vague euphemisms,” said Daniel Russel, who served as Obama’s top Asian diplomat and now works for the Asia Society Policy Institute.
“In particular, the alliance’s shared willingness to respond if required to destabilizing activities comes through as a striking demonstration of alliance unity and determination.”
Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the two nations will sign a new defense cooperation agreement to combat emerging threats like hypersonics and space-based capabilities.
BRAND NEW TOOLS
Blinken stated that the US-Japan alliance “must not only reinforce the instruments we have, but also develop new ones,” noting Russia’s military buildup in Ukraine, Beijing’s “provocative” activities over Taiwan, and North Korea’s most recent missile launch as examples. According to North Korea’s main news agency, a “hypersonic missile” was launched this week and successfully struck a target.
Following the meeting, Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s foreign minister, said Tokyo had detailed its proposal to rewrite the national security policy to substantially improve defense capabilities, which he claimed was well received by his American colleagues.
In October, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that Japan’s security strategy will be revised to reflect “all alternatives, including the acquisition of so-called enemy-strike capability.”
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Kishida’s administration has authorized record defense expenditure in 2022, marking the tenth consecutive year rise.
While Japan’s choices for using force are practically limited, a Taiwan emergency, according to Jeffrey Hornung, a Japanese security policy specialist at the Rand Corporation, a US-backed think tank, would be one hypothetical situation that Japan may regard as endangering its life.
Hornung stated, “There is no coded messaging here.”
“China is the problem,” they added, before going into detail about how the alliance plans to oppose its destabilizing efforts.