Japan, U.S., S. Korea Set to Hold Regular Trilateral Summits, Joint Drills

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden, left, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol after a photo session at the G7 Hiroshima Summit on May 21.

The leaders of Japan, the United States and South Korea are expected to agree to hold regular trilateral summit talks and include this commitment in a joint statement at their meeting in the United States next week, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol also are expected to agree to hold annual drills involving the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. and South Korean militaries.

The moves are intended to demonstrate the robust unity between the three nations. They are also aimed at reining in China’s hegemonic behavior and North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel revealed the plan to hold regular trilateral meetings and joint exercises during an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun and other media outlets on Thursday.

On Aug. 18, Biden will host a trilateral summit at Camp David, a presidential villa near Washington. It will be the first time the three leaders have attended a trilateral summit together that was not held on the sidelines of an international conference. This also will be the first time Biden has invited foreign leaders to Camp David since he became president in 2021. The meeting will be a golden opportunity to showcase the strong relationship of trust between the three leaders to domestic and international audiences.

Next week’s talks will be the first of the regular trilateral summits as the leaders aim to bolster their cooperation to promote a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The three leaders will issue a joint statement after next week’s talks.

According to Emanuel, the summit will herald the start of a new chapter and will demonstrate a commitment to working together on principles shared by all three nations.

The joint statement is expected to include a commitment to hold regular drills involving the SDF and U.S. and South Korean military forces. It will also state that the three nations will soon start promptly sharing information on North Korean missiles.

In September 2022, Japan, the United States and South Korea conducted a trilateral anti-submarine exercise in the Sea of Japan, amid mounting concern about a North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile.

The SDF and the U.S. military routinely conduct joint exercises, but there have not been regular drills involving South Korean military forces. Pyongyang has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles in recent months, so Tokyo, Washington and Seoul plan to reinforce their military ties to boost deterrence and their ability to deal with further launches.

The joint statement also will touch on cooperation in the fields of economic security and advanced technology. With China’s increasingly hegemonic behavior in mind, the statement is expected to call for stronger supply chains for key goods such as semiconductors and for efforts to deal with economic coercion.