Japan, U.S. to strengthen cooperation on defense research

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Japanese and U.S. governments are launching a new research and development agreement that will make it easier for the two countries’ scientists, engineers and others to collaborate on emerging defense-related issues, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday Japan time.

Blinken made the remark during the day’s so-called two-plus-two security talks of the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers held via videoconference with the attendance also of U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi.

Hayashi and Raymond Greene, charge d’affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, signed related documents after the meeting.

“Our alliance must not only strengthen the tools we have, but also develop new ones” to address evolving threats, Blinken said.

Criticizing the Chinese military’s “provocative actions” and North Korea’s “unlawful nuclear and missile programs,” Blinken said Japan and the United States will collaborate in countering hypersonic threats and advancing space-based capabilities under the new agreement.

Hayashi said Japan is fully committed to constantly enhancing its alliance with the United States toward realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific region. He added that he is truly looking forward to collaborating closely with Blinken and Austin.

Hayashi called on the U.S. side to take thorough measures against novel coronavirus infections as new COVID-19 cases have been surging in Okinawa and Yamaguchi prefectures, where U.S. military bases are located.

In response, Austin said that nothing is more important than the safety of local residents and U.S. troops and that the United States will do everything it can to address the matter, sources with access to the videoconference said.

A joint statement released after the videoconference stressed that Japan and the United States will “constantly modernize the alliance and strengthen joint capabilities by fully aligning strategies and prioritizing goals together.”

The two countries are “resolved to ensure alignment of alliance visions and priorities through key forthcoming national security strategy documents,” the statement also said.

The day’s videoconference was joined also by incoming U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel.

Initially, the two-plus-two meeting was scheduled to be held in person in Washington. But it eventually took place online due to the spread of the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.