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Interview: U.S. expert says Biden pinning high hopes on Japan

Washington, Feb. 12 (Jiji Press)–The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is the “first Democratic administration to come into power with a high expectation of Japan,” Michael Green, a former U.S. government expert on Asia, has said in a recent interview with Jiji Press.

Green, who currently serves as senior vice president for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that responses to the recent military coup in Myanmar will be the first test to cooperation between the new U.S. government and Tokyo on the diplomatic stage.

“I think that the Biden team has a very high expectation for Japan’s leadership,” Green said.

“The first crisis that the Biden administration has to work with Japan is Myanmar,” Green said. But the Japanese government’s position regarding the Myanmar coup “is very cautious, not bold,” he noted, suggesting that the Biden administration wants Japan to “take a strong stance publicly” in light of the president’s “commitment to democracy.”

“The expectation is not (for) money,” Green added, referring to former President Donald Trump’s demands for Japan’s increased host-nation support for U.S. troops stationed in the country.

On the “Quad” framework of cooperation between the United States, Japan, Australia and India, Green said that the Biden administration wants to “make it very clear that they are no longer interested in a bipolar condominium with China.” The Quad is “the best way to do that.”

The Quad will not become the Indo-Pacific version of NATO and “is still 60 pct symbolism,” Green said.

But he said, “Sixty pct of the Quad is demonstrating to China that if China pushes too hard, there could be a NATO in Asia…to contain China.”

“So it’s sending a strong signal of warning, of dissuasion, to China, and it’s showing a strong reassurance to Japan, Australia and India,” Green added.

The Asia expert said that administration considers North Korea to be one of the most important issues but that it has no clear plan.

“I think they are putting more of their political capital on Iran,” he noted. “They believe the (2015) Iran nuclear agreement still has some chance to cap Iran’s proliferation.”

On the issue of frayed ties between Tokyo and Seoul, Green said the Biden administration and most members of U.S. Congress think that “(South) Korea created the problem by breaking the commitments” under the 1965 treaty on basic relations between Japan and South Korea and the 2015 agreement to resolve the issue of Korean women who were forced into prostitution for Japanese troops before and during World War II.

However, he suggested that Washington wants Japan to be the grown-up in the bilateral relationship to “change the atmosphere.”

“The reason is because they worry that Beijing is trying to exploit this relationship to weaken the U.S. position in Asia,” Green said, adding that North Korea will face “less pressure” if the unity among the United States, Japan and South Korea becomes weak.

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