TOKYO (TBEN) — Japan and the United States will hold security talks between their foreign and defense ministers in Washington the day before Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida lands in the US capital next week to conclude his tour of the Group of Seven Nations. as Tokyo expands its military and deepens its alliance with America amid China’s growing influence.
Kishida will make a six-country tour to France, Italy, Britain and Canada on Monday ahead of his January 13 summit with US President Joe Biden.
Defense Secretary Yasukazu Hamada and Secretary of State Yoshimasa Hayashi will fly to Washington to join their US counterparts Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken for their “2+2” security talks on Wednesday, just ahead of their leaders’ summit in the US. White House, Japanese officials said Friday.
The “2+2” talks are expected to focus on their new national security strategies, released by Japan in mid-December and the United States in October, and how the two allies plan to address security concerns, including China, North Korea and Russia.
“We will discuss strengthening the deterrence and response capability of the Japan-US alliance taking into account our new strategy papers,” Hamada told reporters.
Hamada said on Friday that he and Austin will separately hold bilateral defense talks on Thursday to discuss details on how their armies can expand and deepen their operations. Asked if they will discuss a revision of their current defense directive based on Japan’s more defensive role, Hamada said nothing has been decided yet.
Japan adopted a series of three security and defense strategy papers in December that break from its exclusively self-defense stance. Among the new strategies, Japan pledges to build its counter-attack capability with long-range cruise missiles capable of targeting potential targets in China, to double its defense budget within five years and to support advanced weapons development.
US officials have welcomed Japan’s willingness to take on a more offensive role, while experts say it could also help expand cooperation with Australia, their main regional defense partner.
Kishida said Wednesday that his talks with Biden will underscore the strength of the Japan-US alliance and highlight closer cooperation between the countries under Japan’s new security and defense strategies adopted last month.
Kishida said coordination with other G-7 leaders ahead of the Hiroshima summit he will host in May is a key goal of his trip, but Japanese officials said their talks will also focus on security and military cooperation.
Kishida plans to further deepen security ties with France through joint military exercises. Japan’s joint development and production of its next-generation FX fighter jet with Italy and Britain for deployment in 2035 will be a top agenda during its visit to Rome and London as they seek to further expand their military ties.