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Friday, February 3, 2023

US-Japan reiterate importance of peace and stability in Taiwan Strait

World NewsUS-Japan reiterate importance of peace and stability in Taiwan Strait

United States And Japan Friday reiterated the importance of peace and stability. Taiwan Strait And warned against anyone Russia’s use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

After the meeting between the two countries US President Joe Biden And Japanese Prime Minister Fumio KishidaThe joint statement issued by the White House also referred to “provocations” by North Korea.

“We strongly oppose any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion anywhere in the world,” the statement said.

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The two administrations were also set to seal an agreement to strengthen US-Japanese cooperation in space with a signing ceremony by Secretary of State Anthony Blanken and Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa.

The Oval Office meeting and signing ceremony at NASA’s Washington headquarters will cap a weeklong tour for Kishida that has taken him to five European and North American capitals to discuss efforts to improve Japan’s security.

Biden welcomed Kishida to the White House Friday morning for the prime minister’s first visit to Washington since taking office in October 2021. Inside the Oval Office, the US president praised Japan for a “historic” increase in defense spending and pledged closer cooperation on economic and security issues.

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“We meet at a remarkable moment,” Biden told Kishida, adding later, “the more difficult task is trying to figure out how and where we disagree.”

Kishida, speaking through an interpreter, said the two nations “share fundamental values ​​such as democracy and the rule of law” and stressed that their joint role on the global stage “is getting bigger and bigger.” “

All of this comes as Japan announced plans last month to increase defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product over five years, a dramatic increase in spending for a nation that has seen the worst since World War II. Adopted a peaceful approach to self-defense. Japan’s defense spending has historically been below 1 percent of GDP.

Blanken said this week that the U.S.-Japan space cooperation framework is “a decade in the making” and covers “everything from joint research to working together to put the first woman and person of color on the moon.” “

He added that the US and Japan agree that China is their “greatest common strategic challenge” and affirmed that a space attack would trigger mutual defense provisions in the US-Japan Security Treaty. .

Ahead of the two leaders’ meeting on Friday, US and Japanese officials announced changes to the US military presence on the island of Okinawa to boost anti-ship capabilities that could be needed in the event of Chinese intervention or other hostile actions in Taiwan. will in the area. Japan is also bolstering defenses on its southwestern islands near Taiwan, including Unagoni and Ishigaki, where new bases are being built.

The leaders discussed Japan’s pressure to increase and coordinate defense spending amid growing concerns that China could take military action to seize Taiwan and that North Korea’s missile tests could lead to a nuclear war. The escalation could lead to the isolated country achieving its nuclear ambitions.

Biden and Kushida also discussed the intrusion of Chinese military vessels into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The uninhabited islands are controlled by Japan but claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.

Kishida’s sit-in with Biden is the final face-to-face in a week of talks with fellow G7 leaders that have focused largely on their efforts to push Japan to increase defense spending and improve cooperation with the leaders. .

Along with British Prime Minister Rishi Singh, he signed Japan’s first defense agreement with a European country, allowing the two countries to conduct joint military exercises.

Kishida also discussed hopes for improving security cooperation between Japan and their respective countries with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Maloney and French President Emmanuel Macron. Germany was the only G-7 country not on Kishda’s itinerary.

Japan last month announced plans to buy US-made Tomahawks and other long-range cruise missiles that could target targets in China or North Korea as part of a more aggressive security strategy, while Japan, Britain and Italy unveiled plans to collaborate on the next-generation jet. Combat plan

Chris Johnstone, a former National Security Council official in the Biden administration who is now Japan chair at the center, said, “Just a few years ago, there would have been some discomfort in Washington having this kind of military capability with Japan.” For strategic and international studies. “Those days are gone.”

Officials from the Biden administration have praised Japan’s actions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Japan was quick to join the US and other Western allies in imposing aggressive sanctions on Moscow, and Japanese carmakers Mazda, Toyota and Nissan announced their withdrawal from Russia.

The White House has made the case that China is paying close attention to international efforts to rally behind Ukraine as it weighs action against Taiwan. Biden administration officials have been pleasantly surprised by Japan’s swift efforts to overhaul its security.

A senior administration official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss negotiations with the Japanese, noted that historically negotiations over the U.S. military position in Okinawa have been “incredibly fraught.” , have been incredibly challenging and difficult” and often take years to complete. But, the official said, the talks were completed at a brisk pace ahead of this week’s meetings.

Biden was expected to raise the case of Lt. Ridge Alkonis, a US Navy officer stationed in Japan who was jailed last year in May 2021 after pleading guilty to the reckless driving deaths of two Japanese nationals. was sent.

Alkonis’ family says he suddenly passed out behind the wheel during a family trip to Mount Fuji. He plowed into parked cars and pedestrians in a parking lot, killing an elderly woman and her son-in-law, who both later died.

The naval officer was sentenced to three years in prison in October, a sentence that the family and US lawmakers have called unduly harsh under the circumstances. Alkonis also agreed to pay $1.65 million in restitution to victims.

The official added that the Biden administration is “working to find a compassionate resolution that is consistent with the rule of law.” Neither Biden nor Kishda responded to questions shouted about Alkonis at the White House, and outside its doors, about two dozen protesters called for Alkonis’ release.

Kishda met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday before meeting with Biden.

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