Kishida highlights security concerns on trip to Europe, US

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida begins a week-long trip on Monday to strengthen military ties with Europe and Britain and draw attention to the Japan-US alliance at a summit in Washington, as Japan breaks postwar restraints to launch an offensive. roles with a view to China.

Kishida’s talks with US President Joe Biden on Friday will highlight his five-nation tour, which will also take him to France, Italy, Britain and Canada – some of the Group of Seven countries Japan has strengthened defense ties with in recent years. His first stop is Paris on Monday night.

Kishida said his summit with Biden would underscore the strength of the Japan-US alliance and how the two countries can work more closely together under Japan’s new security and defense strategies.

Japan adopted major security and defense reforms in December, including a counter-strike capability, breaking the country’s postwar principle of self-defense only. Japan says its current deployment of missile interceptors is insufficient to protect it from rapid weapons development by China and North Korea.

Kishida said he would explain to Biden the new strategy, in which Japan is also beefing up defenses on its southwestern islands near Taiwan, including Yonaguni and Ishigaki, where new bases are being built.

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“Will will discuss the further strengthening of the Japan-US alliance and how we work together to achieve a toll and open up the Indo-Pacific region,” Kishida told national television talk show NHK on Sunday, referring to a vision of national and economic security cooperation. two countries trying to counter China’s growing military and economic influence.

Under the new strategies, Japan plans to begin deploying long-range cruise missiles in 2026 that can hit potential targets in China, nearly double its defense budget over five years to the NATO standard of about 2% of GDP from the current 1%, and improve cyberspace and intelligence capabilities .

The idea is to do as much as possible in a short amount of time, as some experts see growing risks that Chinese President Xi Jinping may turn on self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.

Japan’s new strategy has been welcomed by the Biden administration and some members of Congress. Experts say it would also expand cooperation with their key regional partners, Australia and possibly South Korea.

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“This is an opportunity to rethink and update the structure and mechanisms of the alliance to reflect a more capable partner to come,” said Christopher Johnston, senior adviser and director of the Japan Center for Strategic and International Studies.

However, he said Japan’s focus on strike capability and budget was welcome, but a “daunting agenda” that would require a lot of cooperation with the United States.

Paving the way for the summit, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will travel to Washington on Wednesday to meet their American counterparts Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken, followed by separate defense ministerial talks on Thursday.

The Biden administration, which also adopted its own security strategy in October, expects Japan to help supply and store fuel and ammunition in a Taiwan emergency, experts say. Japan and the US are also reportedly considering a joint command.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss China, North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development, as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine, at the White House talks, Japanese officials said.

Cooperation in supply chain and economic security will also be discussed. Last week, Japan’s Economy and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo discussed the importance of working together to promote and protect critical and emerging technologies, including semiconductors, and export controls to address competitiveness and security challenges in Washington.

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During his trip, Kishida will seek to further strengthen bilateral military ties with four more countries, according to Japanese officials.

Japan’s joint development and production of the FX next-generation fighter jet with Britain and Italy, scheduled for deployment in 2035, will be high on the agenda during his visits to Rome and London on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Japan and Britain have also discussed a mutual access agreement that would remove barriers to joint military exercises between the two countries. In addition to the Japan-US security agreement that allows US troops to be stationed in Japan, Tokyo has a similar agreement only with Australia, and Britain would be the second.

In talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Kishida is expected to share concerns about China’s growing activity in the South Pacific and to confirm the strengthening of joint military exercises between the two sides.

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