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Expert sees chance for cooperation with Japan under Biden

Washington, Feb. 9 (Jiji Press)–The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is likely to seek cooperation with Japan by reversing the unilateralism of his predecessor, Donald Trump, a U.S. think tank expert has said.

The Biden administration is not “going to do things that surprise our allies, that embarrass our allies,” Bruce Stokes, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund, said in a recent interview.

“I’m sure they will want to strengthen the military strategic relationship with Japan” as the United States has to deal with China’s growing economic and strategic assertiveness in the region, he said. “But there will be no idle threats about… making Japan pay for the American troops in the region.”

“I think the inclination of the Biden administration will be to work closely with Japan on our response to Taiwan,” he added.

Asked about possible changes to U.S. diplomacy toward China, Stokes said, “What we know from public opinion surveys is that American public disapproval of China and criticism of China has never been this high since the Cold War.”

Republicans and Democrats are united in their dislike of Beijing, he said.

“At least around human rights, they’re also united to say we should be tougher on human rights in China even if it hurts us economically,” he continued.

Stokes said that Japan is in a slightly different position in dealing with China, a neighbor, noting that Japan is economically connected with China “much more deeply” than the United States is.

“So I think what we can do economically is constrained, at least in the short run especially,” he said.

Regarding the benefits for the Biden administration in working with Japan, Stokes said that “the biggest opportunity is in potential for U.S.-Japan cooperation on emerging technologies of high-technology products,” including artificial intelligence, quantum computing and advanced robotics.

They require enormous amounts of money, top scientific talent and a huge market to maximize their potential, he said.

Noting that “China has all of that,” Stokes said that Japan and the United States can boost their competitiveness against China if they can organize cooperation.

“Japanese companies could help us build long-distance railroads,” which would reduce air pollution by aircraft, he said.

On the possibility of the United States returning to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement led by Japan, Stokes said that people in the Biden administration “have no interest” in the TPP.

“The people I’ve talked to agree that not joining TPP at the beginning was a huge mistake,” he said. Still, “fixing that mistake is really difficult at this point,” he added.

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