Japan, U.S. must boost cooperation to ensure stable international order

There have been conspicuous moves by despotic countries that threaten the international order. To maintain global peace and prosperity, Japan and the United States must further strengthen their cooperation over various areas and issues.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recently held a videoconference with U.S. President Joe Biden. This is the first time the two leaders have had in-depth discussions on such issues as the regional situation and diplomatic strategies.

After the 80-minute meeting, Kishida told reporters, “We were able to have a candid discussion on how Japan and the United States will cooperate and lead the international community.”

It is highly significant that the two leaders showed their determination to work together on a wide spectrum of issues, including security and the economy, by deepening the personal trust between them.

During the talks, the two leaders agreed on Biden visiting Japan in the first half of this year and that a summit between Japan, the United States, Australia and India would be held in Japan.

Japan, the United States, Australia and India constitute a framework that is key to promoting a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Japan should work to coordinate with other nations to provide developing countries with more assistance in taking measures against infectious diseases and developing infrastructure, thereby achieving good results.

The two leaders also agreed to create an economic version of the two-plus-two framework that involves the foreign and economic ministers of the two countries.

China is trying to strengthen its influence over other countries through economic coercion, by controlling supply networks for resources and goods. Beijing is also said to have been obtaining cutting-edge technology and seeking to adapt it for military use.

In tandem with the United States, Japan needs to work on creating international rules to balance free trade and economic security. It is also important to continue calling on Washington to return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

The United States is said to be seeking to create a new economic framework in the Indo-Pacific region. It is hoped that Japan and the United States will discuss this in detail in the envisaged two-plus-two framework.

The two leaders emphasized again the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and affirmed their policy of taking concerted action in the event of Russia invading Ukraine.

Also, in the East China Sea, China has repeatedly intruded into Japan’s territorial waters off the Senkaku Islands. It is crucial to clarify the principle that unilateral changes to the status quo by force will never be allowed.

The two leaders expressed concern over North Korea’s successive missile launches. Kishida conveyed to Biden his intention to consider the possession of the capability to attack enemy bases, and the U.S. president reportedly welcomed Japan’s efforts to bolster its defense capabilities.

How can the deterrence and response capabilities of the alliance be enhanced? It is essential to discuss comprehensive strategies and concrete systems more closely.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Jan. 23, 2022.