The Biden administration participated in a meeting of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2-plus-2) between foreign and defense chiefs only a couple of months into its term. This in itself is a testament to the importance the U.S. attaches to the Indo-Pacific region and to the bilateral relationship with Japan.
The Indo-Pacific region carries weight in U.S. policy because both the government and the private sector, regardless of party affiliation, are deeply concerned about the rise of China.
The U.S.’s China policy, however, doesn’t seek to contain China. The Biden administration will need to hold dialogue with China on one hand, while deterring it on the other. Japan and the U.S. should cooperate in an effort to urge China to better comply with international rules and to act as a powerful and responsible member of the international community.
To accomplish this, Japan and the U.S. should have a division of roles. The history between Japan and China is much longer than that between the U.S. and China; thus Japan is suited for promoting dialogue with China.
Under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, Japan protects its own territory, and the U.S. has an obligation to defend it. This principle doesn’t change. Within this framework, Japan needs to consider enhancing the capability of the Self-Defense Forces and improving the security capacity of the Japan Coast Guard. The U.S. is likely expecting this, too.