Japan, U.S. must build peace, prosperity with a strong alliance / Coordinate China strategies to share responsibility

The free and open international order is being challenged by China. The Japan-U.S. alliance must be deepened, and the strength of democracy demonstrated.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga visited Washington for his first summit with U.S. President Joe Biden. Biden chose Suga for his first in-person summit talks. This must be a sign of his expectations for Japan.

In a joint statement, the two countries set forth a vision of an alliance for a new era in which they will work together to tackle a wide range of issues, including the global economy, advanced technology, climate change and infectious diseases, as well as security. Japan and the United States must work closely together to ensure peace and prosperity in the region.

Right to mention Taiwan

The Biden administration is ready to face off against China together with its allies and friendly countries, and it regards Japan as its greatest partner.

It is important for Japan and the United States, which share universal values such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, to unite to heighten the international community’s trust in them and to urge China to change its hegemonic behavior.

Japan needs to sufficiently coordinate its China strategy with the United States and must be determined to share responsibilities with the United States.

The joint statement “will serve as the guiding post for our alliance in the times ahead, and strongly demonstrates our solidarity toward the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Suga said at a press conference. Biden emphasized, “We’re going to work together to prove that democracies can still compete and win in the 21st century.”

In the talks, the United States reaffirmed that Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which stipulates its obligation to defend Japan, applies to the Senkaku Islands, and the two sides also reaffirmed the provision of extended deterrence by the United States.

China has been actively attempting to unilaterally change the status quo in the East and South China seas, including intrusions into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. It is significant that Biden pledged to get involved in the region and defend Japan.

The joint statement clearly stated “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” This is the first time that a document on the outcome of Japan-U.S. summit talks has touched on the situation in the Taiwan Strait since the 1969 talks between then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and then President Richard Nixon, before the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China.

If a military crisis arises in Taiwan, it will inevitably have a serious impact on Japan’s peace. It is appropriate for Japan and the United States to jointly issue a warning to China, which is intimidating Taiwan.

It is essential that Japan and the United States discuss the division of roles in advance, assuming all possible scenarios.

The joint statement also stressed the importance of the “complete denuclearization” of North Korea and the immediate resolution of the issue of abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korea. Close cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea is necessary to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues and other matters.

Human rights concerns

The Japanese and U.S. leaders shared “serious concerns” over China’s crackdown on the Uighur ethnic minority and the pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong.

Japan, out of consideration for China, has not imposed the same sanctions as those imposed by the West. However, China’s violations of basic human rights and actions that violate its international commitments are unacceptable. The government should send a clearer message to China, such as directly asking for improvement of the situation.

At the meeting, the two leaders agreed to promote the establishment of a supply chain that does not rely on any particular country for important goods such as semiconductors.

In February, Biden signed an executive order instructing relevant ministries and agencies to review the supply chains for critical products. This is an issue for Japan as well, and Japan should strengthen cooperation with the United States.

The joint statement also says the two countries will deepen cooperation in advanced fields such as the 5G high-speed, high-capacity telecommunications standard, artificial intelligence and quantum technology.

The United States is becoming increasingly wary of China’s strategy of military-civil fusion, in which China seeks to have advanced civilian technology lead to military superiority, and it is tightening its export controls.

On the other hand, China is also an important market for Japanese and U.S. companies. Japan and the United States must examine which technologies must be protected from China, from the perspective of economic security.

Climate change, Olympics

At the meeting, the two leaders also decided to boost cooperation on measures to combat climate change.

Japan and the United States have set government goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. To achieve those goals, the two countries will cooperate on such matters as the use of hydrogen, and technology to recover and store carbon dioxide.

The two countries also agreed to cooperate on achieving greenhouse gas reduction targets for fiscal 2030, which will be set at a later date. It is hoped that the two countries will work in tandem to accelerate the global trend toward decarbonization.

As for measures against the novel coronavirus, the two countries confirmed their policy of distributing vaccines to Southeast Asia and other regions.

Biden expressed his support for Japan’s efforts to host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. It is important to take all possible measures to hold safe events.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on April 18, 2021.