US, Japan agree to step up security co-op
The United States and Japan have announced stepped-up security cooperation in the face of shared worries about China, and Washington strongly endorsed a major military buildup Tokyo announced last month.
A joint statement issued on Wednesday after a meeting between their foreign and defense ministers in Washington said the two countries "provided a vision of a modernized Alliance postured to prevail in a new era of strategic competition."
"We agree that the PRC is the greatest shared strategic challenge that we and our allies and partners face," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a joint news conference after the meeting, referring to the People's Republic of China.
At the briefing, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced plans to introduce a Marine Littoral Regiment in Japan, which would bring significant capabilities, including anti-ship missiles. Blinken said that two sides also agreed to extend the terms of their common defense treaty to cover space.
The joint statement said that given "a severely contested environment," the forward posture of US forces in Japan should be upgraded "by positioning more versatile, resilient, and mobile forces with increased intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, anti-ship, and transportation capabilities."
Austin was to meet Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada again yesterday at the Pentagon ahead of a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida today.
A senior administration official told Reuters that Biden and Kishida are expected to discuss security issues and the global economy.
The new deployments could be the first of several announcements this year on military forces in Asia aimed at making Beijing think twice before initiating any conflict. The agreement follows nearly a year of talks and comes after Japan last month announced its biggest military build-up since World War Two - a dramatic departure from seven decades of pacifism, fueled by concerns about Chinese actions in the region.