Why Japan is the latest ally moving Biden’s way

Kishida follows German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s goal of increasing Japan’s defense spending to 2.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product by 2027. Zeitenwende address. Days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Scholz declared the war a “turning point” that he said was enough to raise Berlin’s defense spending to 2 percent of Germany’s GDP, reversing decades of extreme caution in military matters after the Cold War. The war.

Both announcements are remarkable for countries with complicated histories. They come years after Trump tried to intimidate his allies and try to defend themselves again. Many are doing exactly that — but under Biden’s watch.

“What a person publishes is as important as what Scholz does,” said Ian Bremmer, president of The Eurasia Group, a global risk assessment firm. While the shift is largely due to the changing security environment, he added: “The Biden leadership has made it easier to lean on Japan because they know they’re going to be there. Trump has really backed off. I haven’t heard Japanese leaders worry about Trump coming back.”

Kishida’s trip to Washington is the final stop on a week-long trip to meet with G-7 allies in Hiroshima in May. It also comes as he is weakened by a series of scandals at home.

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“Kishida needs a bear hug from Biden, and Biden can give it,” said Joshua Walker, president and CEO of the Japan Society of America.

With little progress on a broader Trans-Pacific trade deal, the meetings are likely to focus on defense issues and technology, particularly curbs on semiconductor exports to China.

They may also focus on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s resumption of a brazen missile-testing regime and Japan’s concerns about regional stability, fueled by China’s recent clash of swords over Taiwan.

“Most of Tokyo’s concern is focused on China, but North Korea continues to show that it should not be forgotten,” said Sheila Smith, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The long-term balance of power in the Indo-Pacific will be determined by how integrated the strategies of Japan, the US, Australia and India are.”

Biden and Kishida agree. The White House has, in fact, been pleased with Kishida’s response to the war in Ukraine, which began just months after he was elected, and his willingness to condemn the Russian invasion and impose tough sanctions alongside the US and European allies. This is a significant change from 2014, when Russia tried to avoid siding with Japan after its annexation of Crimea. In an interview with the Washington Post last week, Kishida echoed Biden’s view that Moscow’s unjustified aggression is not only about the fate of Eastern Europe, but also about the rules-based international order itself.

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“We’re seeing a lot of convergence in how Japan views the world and how the United States views the world,” said a senior administration official who agreed to discuss the bilateral meetings on condition of anonymity. Tokyo’s move to a more forward-looking defense posture, the official continued, “reflects the great confidence that comes from US investment in the alliance.”

No press conference was scheduled after Friday’s bilateral meeting. Instead, the message Biden and Kishida are likely to send will come in the form of a joint communique outlining a series of initiatives on defense, space cooperation and cybersecurity.

“Our friends in China are looking at this very carefully,” Walker said. “Whatever joint communique comes out is likely to be stronger than anything we’ve seen since Japan’s tendency not to mention China by name seems to be disappearing under Kishida.”

James Shoff, a former senior Pentagon adviser on East Asia policy and now senior director of the DC-based Sasakawa Peace Foundation, suggested that it might look like “a bit of a laundry list.” But I think it’s about body language and [projecting] The idea is, “We understand the challenges we face and we’re doing our best to deal with them.”

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A joint statement on Wednesday by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Japanese counterparts Yoshimasa Hayashi and Yasukazu Hamada outlined many of the “deliverables” to come out of Friday’s meeting.

On the defense front, the two countries agreed to increase the US military presence on the island of Okinawa to increase anti-ship capabilities in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. They also announced plans to add space to the US-Japan security treaty and begin joint military exercises in 2027.

“My expectation is that it will be a long meeting,” Sen said. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), former U.S. ambassador to Japan. “My hope is that you’ll see a very supportive Biden administration talking about how we can find ways to increase. [military] interaction … to improve the efficiency of the military procurement process because we [Japan’s] A major supplier of military weapons platforms.

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