May 18, 2024

US, Japan and Philippines meet to strengthen ties amid growing security concerns – April 8, 2024

US President Joe Biden is hosting the leaders of Japan and the Philippines this week to strengthen economic and security ties. Allies are trying to balance China's growing power and manage risks from North Korea to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

Biden's bilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday will improve security ties with Japan, Washington's top ally in the Indo-Pacific region and an increasingly important global partner.

Grieving at home, Kishita will be welcomed with great fanfare in America. Japanese flags are already flying from lampposts in Washington, with a glitzy dinner at the White House with about 200 guests.

On Thursday, he will be the second Japanese leader to address a joint session of Congress, after his predecessor Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in 2015, delivered a speech.

Political analysts say the visit is an opportunity for Kishida to boost his popularity in the country ahead of September's election for the leadership of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The United States appreciates Japan as a key regional and global ally, and Kishida will praise the defense reforms that have moved Japan away from its postwar pacifism.

The visit has been overshadowed by controversy over Japan's Nippon Steel's planned $15 billion takeover of American steelmaker US Steel, a deal that came after criticism from his rival in the US election in November, Biden and Donald Trump. “Has been suspended”.

Japanese concerns that Trump could strike a second deal with China that could destabilize the region, renew protectionist trade measures or demand more money to maintain US forces in Japan are echoed by some analysts and those close to former presidents. as exaggerated.

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Support for the Philippines

On Thursday, Biden held a bilateral meeting with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, whom he held in Washington last year, before the two meet Kishida at a trilateral summit to confront Chinese pressure on the Philippines in a controversial defiance.

“Close cooperation between Japan, the United States and the Philippines is critical to a free and open order based on the rule of law and economic prosperity in the region,” Kishida said Friday.

Japan supplied the Philippines with air defense radars last year and is negotiating a mutual access agreement that would make it easier for Japanese troops to train there.

Over the weekend, US, Japanese, Australian and Philippine warships will conduct a one-day exercise in the South China Sea on Sunday to support a free and open Indo-Pacific region, the Philippines said.

US officials insist that the summit with the Philippines is not just about security, but about “long-term” outcomes in areas such as energy, economic security and major infrastructure projects.

“It's a very important moment when we hear from the Philippines about what kind of support would be most effective,” a senior US government official told Reuters.

Military coordination between the United States and Japan

Leaders are expected to unveil plans to upgrade the military command structure the US is discussing in Japan, amid fears that Russia's invasion of Ukraine could prompt Beijing to act against the self-ruled island of Taiwan, a strategically important producer of the world's most advanced semiconductors. In a crisis the Japanese armed forces can work well together.

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China claims Taiwan as its own territory, although the government in Taipei strongly denies this, and has never given up using force to bring the country under Beijing's control.

The three leaders are expected to announce steps to enable further joint development and co-production of military and defense equipment, Kurt Campbell, a key architect of US Indo-Pacific policy, said last week.

“The current security environment is difficult and complex, and we are at a turning point in history,” Kishida said Friday.

Under Kishida, Japan has pledged to double defense spending to 2% of GDP, making the country the world's third-largest military spender. Plans also include the purchase of hundreds of cruise missiles capable of hitting targets up to 1,000 km (620 mi) away.

U.S. Japan has become important to the U.S. as a potential manufacturing base for weapons, including its shipyards, for the re-export of Patriot PAC3 missile defense systems to Ukraine, which are becoming increasingly important for repairing warships.

The Biden-Kishida summit is expected to discuss Japan's future participation in the AUKUS security agreement between Australia, Britain and the United States, but officials and experts are barring that Japan should introduce better cyber security and tougher cyber security rules. Secrets.

Amid the Nippon Steel controversy, US officials want to highlight other Japanese investments in the US. Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, aviation and construction industries will “contribute to good-paying, robust American jobs,” a senior administration official said.

Another focus is space travel. As competition with Russia and China heats up, Japan hopes to land its first astronaut on the moon by 2026 as part of the US Artemis project to return humans to the moon.

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“It's the dream,” Kishida told PBS News Hour, “that a Japanese astronaut could put his feet on the face of the moon.”