Nikkei wrote that Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin arrived in Tokyo on Monday for their first trip to a foreign country as cabinet members of the Biden administration. The paper speculated that the governments of the United States and Japan are planning to criticize China by name at their 2+2 meeting today in line with a State Department fact sheet released on Sunday that was entitled “Reaffirming the Unbreakable U.S.-Japan Alliance” and stated: “We are committed to working together on our shared challenges, including countering malign influences and PRC provocations in Asia and around the world.”
Mainichi wrote that the two nations are planning to discuss at their 2+2 meeting China’s security law and its repeated intrusions into Japanese waters and express concern over such Chinese activities in a document to be issued after the meeting. The paper speculated that the move is intended to demonstrate the solidarity of the U.S.-Japan alliance and send a warning to China. Noting that the Biden administration has been reaching out to North Korea since mid-February through multiple channels, the paper speculated that the DPRK will be a topic of discussion at the U.S.-Japan 2+2 meeting today and Secretary Blinken’s planned talks with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on March 18.
Sankei speculated that the fact that Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin are visiting Japan in their first overseas trip as cabinet members of the Biden administration is in line with Secretary Blinken’s view that China poses the 21st century’s greatest geopolitical challenge and that the two secretaries will launch the U.S.’s Indo-Pacific strategy to respond to the threat posed by China through cooperation with allies. The paper also conjectured that the GOJ views the 2+2 meeting with the United States as a good opportunity to coordinate its approach to China, including the response to Chinese coast guard vessels which are allowed to use weapons under a new security law. However, Japan’s readiness to play a greater security role will be tested as a quid pro quo for the United States’ policy of attaching importance to Japan, the paper wrote. Concerning Secretary Blinken’s planned meeting with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on March 18 in Anchorage following his 2+2 meetings with Japan and South Korea, the paper speculated that Beijing will probably seek to improve ties with Washington to drive a wedge in the trilateral cooperation between the United States, Japan, and South Korea.
Yomiuri quoted Foreign Minister Motegi as saying at an Upper House Budget Committee session on Monday that the fact that Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin chose Japan as the destination of their first overseas trip soon after the launch of the Biden administration demonstrates Washington’s policy of attaching importance to Japan.