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U.S. Ambassador William Hagerty: Japan-U.S. alliance and trends in East Asia

  • September 1, 2019
  • , J2Top , pp. 4–5
  • JMH Translation

At the national conference of the Jiji Press Research Institute of Japan held on July 2, U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty spoke on the topic of “The Japan-U.S. alliance and trends in East Asia.” He explained how the United States is continuing its history of valuing “liberty,” which is enshrined in its Declaration of Independence, through the initiatives it is carrying out hand in hand with Japan in the areas of trade and security. He described the marked rise in China’s military expenditures, and then went on to emphasize that the Chinese threat is growing not only in the field of security but also from companies like Huawei. Regarding Japan-U.S. relations, he clarified that the goal is to reduce the deficit with Japan. In the dialogue held after his speech, he explained America’s economic and security policies. He also responded to a few questions. (Text by the editorial division)


China has markedly increased its military expenditure


When America’s founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence, they were focused on protecting liberty. Today, the United States continues in that tradition, placing the highest value on “liberty” in all our relationships. In the Indo-Pacific region, we work closely alongside Japan to preserve the liberty of neighboring nations, both in terms of security and economy. In our trade relationships, the United States seeks to promote economic liberty, remove artificial barriers, and ensure balance and reciprocity.


Regarding the threat posed by North Korea, we were able, with Japan’s support, to implement tough U.N. Security Council resolutions on the North Korean regime. These efforts produced the historic U.S.-DPRK summit. President Trump met with Kim Jong Un in the DMZ. It is difficult to predict how the situation will develop, but I am optimistic on the outcome.


In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a promise to President Barack Obama that “China has no intent to militarize the South China Sea.” Unfortunately, China has proceeded with a substantial military buildup in the South China Sea. These actions block the free flow of trade, while challenging the sovereignty of other nations. Alongside the rapid economic growth it has enjoyed following its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, China has drastically increased its military spending and the modernization of its capabilities. In 2000, China’s defense budget stood at just over $41 billion. Last year, China’s spending was estimated to have reached over five times its level in 2000, or just over $239 billion. There is no region as culturally, socially, economically, and geopolitically diverse as the Asia-Pacific. In this region, Japan stands well-protected. Japan is home to the headquarters of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, and America’s large troop presence is testament to our enduring defense commitments.


Our efforts to achieve reciprocity should not be mistaken for protectionism


The economic relationship between the United States and Japan is of the utmost importance to both of our countries. Our goal is to reduce our trade deficit with Japan and remove barriers to trade, so that U.S. exports can compete on more reciprocal terms. Our efforts should not be mistaken for protectionism. The U.S. market has remained the most open major market in the world. Reciprocity will be a win-win result for both nations. Since the beginning of his administration, President Trump has made our strong interest in a bilateral trade agreement clear. In February of 2017, a bilateral economic dialogue was put in place. President Trump and Prime Minister Abe released their joint statement last September agreeing to enter into negotiations. The current situation has left American farmers and ranchers facing disadvantageous conditions that will indeed worsen our trade deficit with Japan. We need to fix this situation, and soon. The United States already has trade agreements with six of the 11 nations participating in the TPP. An agreement with Japan would capture the majority of the trade flow, which is why it is essential we reach an agreement.


China has chosen the path of economic aggression


When China joined the WTO, we hoped that China would evolve into a partner that upholds the rules of the international trading system. China, however, has chosen a course of economic aggression against its competitors: stealing intellectual property, forcing the transfer of technology, and engaging in cyber-crime. The U.S. seeks to find an enforceable solution to China’s behavior, which inflicts harm on the U.S. economy and American businesses. Telecommunications carriers around the world are beginning to roll out their 5G networks. In the age of 5G, a huge volume of vital data will traverse these networks, making it more important than ever to protect this flow from manipulation or espionage by malicious actors. The U.S. government has banned technology from Huawei and other Chinese companies from our government systems. Entities benefiting from heavy state subsidies contaminate our markets and eliminate competition from private sector investors, thereby stifling innovation. 


Returning to our trade relationship with Japan, the investments made by U.S. and Japanese companies contribute much to our mutual prosperity. The U.S. economy has flourished under the Trump administration’s pro-growth policies. Conditions are ripe for businesses to expand their operations in the U.S. market. Many Japanese companies are already taking advantage of these opportunities, and I am optimistic that the trend will continue. 

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