Why Japan is the latest ally to go Biden’s way

Kishida’s newly announced goal of increasing Japan’s defense spending to 2.7 percent of the country’s GDP by 2027 follows that of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Zeitenwende Tabuk. Days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Schulz declared the war a “turning point,” reason enough, he said, to finally increase Berlin’s defense spending to 2 percent of Germany’s GDP, reversing decades of extreme caution on military matters after the end of the cold. war.

Both ads are a fascinating facet of countries with complex histories. They come only a few years after Trump tried to bully allies into recommitting to their own defense. Many are doing just that — but on guard against Biden.

“What Kishida announced is just as important as what Schulz did,” said Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, a global risk assessment firm. He added that while that shift has greatly precipitated the changing security environment, “Biden’s leadership has made it easier for Japan to lean on it because they know he’ll be there. Trump has really backed off. I just don’t hear Japanese leaders worry about Trump coming back as much.” they were “.

Kishida’s trip to Washington is the final stop on a weeklong trip to meet G7 allies before a May summit he will host in his home city of Hiroshima that will focus in part on denuclearization. It will also come after he has been weakened by a series of scandals at home.

“Kishida needs a bear hug from Biden, and Biden can give him that,” said Joshua Walker, president and CEO of the US-based Japan Association.

With little progress on a broader Trans-Pacific trade agreement, the meetings are likely to focus on defense and technology issues, specifically limiting semiconductor exports to China.

They can also focus on Japan’s concerns about regional stability, which have deepened amid North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s recent resumption of a flagrant regime of missile tests and China’s recent shock over Taiwan.

“Most of Tokyo’s concerns center on China, but North Korea continues to prove that it should not be forgotten,” said Sheila Smith, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The long-term balance of power across the Indo-Pacific will be determined by how complementary the strategies of Japan, the United States, Australia and India are.”

Biden and Kishida agree. Indeed, the White House was comforted by Kishida’s response to the war in Ukraine — which began just months after his election — and his willingness to condemn Russia’s invasion and impose tough sanctions on the side of the United States and its European allies. This is a significant reversal from 2014, when Japan sought to avoid taking sides after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. in interview last week With The Washington Post, Kishida also shared Biden’s view that Moscow’s gratuitous invasion is not just about the fate of Eastern Europe but the rules-based international order itself.

“We’re seeing a much greater convergence in the way Japan views the world and how the United States views the world,” said a senior administration official, who agreed to discuss the bilateral meetings on the condition of anonymity. Tokyo’s shift to a more forward-leaning stance on defense, the official continued, “reflects the tremendous degree of confidence that comes from US investments in the alliance.”

No press conference was planned after the bilateral meeting on Friday. Instead, the message that Biden and Kishida are likely to send will come in the form of a joint statement outlining a series of initiatives in the areas of defense, space cooperation, and cybersecurity.

“Our friends in China are watching this very carefully,” Walker said. “Whatever joint statement is issued may be more powerful than anything we have seen because the Japanese tendency not to mention China’s name is fading under Kishida.”

It might sound like “a bit of a laundry list,” predicted James Shove, a former Pentagon senior adviser for East Asia policy and now a senior director for the Washington-based Sasakawa Peace Foundation. But I think it has to do with body language and [projecting] The idea that “we understand the challenges that lie ahead, we’re on full swing, and we’re working to deal with them.”

Many of the “outcomes” that will come out of Friday’s meeting were outlined in a joint statement from Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and their Japanese counterparts, Yoshimasa Hayashi and Yasukazu Hamada.

On the defense side, the two countries agreed to adjust the presence of US forces on the island of Okinawa upwards, in a move to bolster anti-ship capabilities in the event of a Chinese incursion into Taiwan. They also announced plans to add outer space to the scope of the US-Japan security treaty and to begin joint military exercises in 2027.

“I expect it will be a substantive, multi-hour meeting,” said the senator. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Former US Ambassador to Japan. “I hope you see a very supportive Biden administration come out and talk about how we can find ways to increase our capabilities [military] Interoperability … to improve the efficiency of the military procurement process because we are [Japan’s] The largest provider of military weapons platforms.

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