US and Japan to strengthen military relationship with upgraded Marine unit in attempt to deter China


The United States and Japan are set to announce this week a significant strengthening of their military ties and upgrades to the status of US military forces in the country, including the deployment of a newly designed Marine Corps unit with advanced intelligence, surveillance and anti-aircraft fire capabilities. shoot The cruise missiles, according to two US officials briefed on the matter.

The announcement sends a strong signal to China and will be part of a series of initiatives designed to emphasize accelerating security and intelligence ties between the countries.

The news is expected to be announced on Wednesday as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken meet with their Japanese counterparts in Washington. The officials are meeting as part of the annual meeting of the US-Japan Security Advisory Committee, days before President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House.

The newly reconstituted Marine Corps unit will be based in Okinawa and aims to bolster deterrence against Chinese aggression in a volatile region and provide a standing force capable of defending Japan and responding quickly to contingencies, officials said. Okinawa is considered key to US military operations in the Pacific – in part because of its proximity to Taiwan. It is home to more than 25,000 US military personnel and more than two dozen military installations. Approximately 70 percent of US military bases in Japan are in Okinawa. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, an island in Okinawa Prefecture, Yunaguni, lies less than 70 miles from Taiwan.

One of the officials said it was one of the most significant adjustments to the posture of US military forces in the region in recent years, underscoring the Pentagon’s desire to shift past wars in the Middle East to future ones in the Indo-Pacific. . The shift comes as simulated war games by a prominent Washington think tank found that Japan, and Okinawa in particular, would play an important role in a military conflict with China, providing the United States with deployment and basing options.

“I think it’s fair to say, in my view, 2023 will probably be the most transformative year in a generation for the position of U.S. forces in the region,” said Eli Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs. Affairs, last month at the American Enterprise Institute.

The news follows the launch of the first Marine Coastal Regiment in Hawaii last year, when the 3rd Marine Regiment in Hawaii became the 3rd Marine Coastal Regiment — a key part of the Marine Corps’ modernization efforts outlined in the 2030 Force Design Report. . From General David Berger.

As the service has described them, Marine littoral regiments are a “mobile, low-signature” unit capable of conducting strikes, coordinating air and missile defenses, and supporting surface warfare.

The Washington Post first reported on the soon-to-be-announced changes.

The United States and Japan will announce on Wednesday that they are expanding their defense treaty to include attacks on space or land, US officials said, amid growing concern about China’s rapidly advancing space program. They are from space. Development of ultrasonic weapons

In November, China launched three astronauts to its nearly completed space station as Beijing seeks to establish a long-term presence in space. China has also explored the far reaches of the Moon and Mars.

Officials said the two allies will declare that Article V of the US-Japan Security Treaty, first signed in 1951, applies to attacks from space or inner space. In 2019, the United States and Japan made it clear that the defense treaty applies to cyberspace and that a cyber attack can constitute an armed attack under certain circumstances.

The United States has closely watched China’s rapid development of hypersonic weapons systems, including a missile in 2021 that circled the globe before launching a hypersonic glider that hit its target. It was a wake-up call for the United States, which is lagging behind China and Russia in advanced ultrasound technology.

The two countries will also consider joint use of facilities in Japan and more exercises in Japan’s southwestern islands, a move that is sure to anger Beijing given Beijing’s proximity to Taiwan and even mainland China. US officials added that the US will temporarily deploy MQ-9 Reaper drones for maritime surveillance of the East China Sea, as well as a bilateral group for analysis and information sharing.

The announcement comes less than a month after Japan unveiled its new national security plan, which represents the country’s biggest military buildup since World War II, doubled defense spending and scrapped a pacifist constitution. It deviates in the face of increasing threats from regional competitors, including China.

China has increased its naval and air forces in areas near Japan, while it considers the Senkaku Islands, an uninhabited chain controlled by Japan in the East China Sea, as its independent territory.

In late December, Japan announced that Chinese state vessels had been sighted in the contiguous area around the Senkakus, known as the Diaoyus in China, for 334 days in 2022, the most since 2012, when Tokyo took some of the islands from a private owner. Japanese, government, bought. NHK TV reported. From December 22 to 25, Chinese government vessels spent nearly 73 consecutive hours in Japanese territorial waters near the islands, the longest such incursion since 2012, NHK reported.

China has also increased military pressure on Taiwan, the self-governing island whose security Japanese leaders say is critical to Japan’s own security. In August, the push included Beijing firing five missiles that landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone near Taiwan in response to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.

Even before the announcement of increased cooperation between the United States and Japan was made public, Chinese government officials were reacting to Japanese media reports.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday: US-Japan military cooperation should not harm the interests of any third party or undermine peace and stability in the region.

A State Department official explained that the war in Ukraine and the strengthening of Sino-Russian relations have encouraged the United States and Japan to reach a series of new agreements that have been under consideration for some time.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has kind of set things in motion,” the official said. “The relations between Putin and Xi Jinping that we saw before the Beijing Olympics showed that, wait a minute, the Russians and Chinese are working in new ways. “We are facing new challenges.”

And it’s not just the United States — Japan and Britain also announced Wednesday that the two countries will sign a “historic defense agreement” that will allow them to deploy troops in each other’s countries.

According to a statement from Downing Street on Wednesday, the mutual access agreement will allow both forces to plan larger and more complex military exercises and deployments, making it “the most important defense agreement between the two countries”. country in more than a century.” .

The agreement still needs to be ratified by the respective parliaments before it can take effect. According to this statement, it will be presented to the Japanese regime and the British Parliament in the coming weeks.


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