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U.S. expects Japan to return favor in diplomacy, security

Washington, March 16 (Jiji Press)–U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is expected to call for Japan to play a more active role in the diplomacy and security fields in return for its favor given to the Asian country.


Japan is the first place U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited during their first overseas trip since the Biden administration was launched in January.


After their “two-plus-two” meeting with the Japanese foreign and defense ministers in Tokyo on Tuesday, Biden plans to meet Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in person next month, making Suga the first foreign leader to visit the White House since Biden took office.


These favorable treatments signal the importance that the administration attaches to Japan, with which it shares concerns over China’s growing assertiveness, and to the Japan-U.S. ties. The attitude marks a stark contrast to the “America First” policy of former President Donald Trump.


The Biden government is “an administration that’s really focusing on the China problem and really focusing on allies,” said former U.S. diplomat Michael Green, now senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank.


In a joint news conference after the Tokyo meeting, Blinken said the two countries share the free and open Indo-Pacific vision and that his country will push back China when it becomes assertive.


He also said that the Japanese and U.S. citizens, bound by friendship, are like a family.


Washington is expected to pursue some tangible benefits while treating Japan preferentially.


The Biden administration, unlike its predecessor, is not demanding a sharp increase in Japan’s share of the costs to host U.S. forces stationed in the Asian country.


But it is hoping Japan will play a greater role in realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific region and helping the United States over its China strategy.


Derek Mitchell, former U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, has said, “Japan doesn’t have to immediately do exactly the same as the United States, but there should be the prospect of a strong, punishing response” to the military coup that happened in the Southeast Asian nation last month.


The Biden administration has invoked sanctions against senior members of Myanmar’s military under its diplomatic policy emphasizing democracy and human rights.


The U.S. government has high expectations for Japan over difficult China issues and needs help to handle them, Green said, predicting that Washington will seek closer cooperation from Tokyo over its Asia policy.


Japan is also likely to be asked to boost its defense expenditures and enhance its own defense capabilities, which would make it easier for the United States to allocate budget funds and defense assets to other fields.


Furthermore, the United States may urge Japan to deploy a ground-based missile system to boost its deterrent power against China.

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