The first Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2+2) meeting since the inauguration of the U.S. Biden administration was held in Tokyo. The main theme of the meeting was how to respond to the rise of China.
The ministers shared “serious concerns” about China’s repeated intrusions into territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture and China’s new Coast Guard Law, which defines the power of Chinese public vessels.
In the joint statement, the two countries criticized China by name saying, “We remain opposed to any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands.”
With China in mind, the participants also emphasized defense cooperation in new domains, such as space and cyber.
It can be said that the Japanese and U.S. representatives made clear their firm commitment to work together to deal with the challenge China poses to the rules-based international order.
The Biden administration chose Japan as the first foreign destination for its key Cabinet ministers in charge of security. This is a sign that the Biden administration attaches importance to the Japan-U.S. alliance.
The Biden administration made elaborate preparations for the recent 2+2 meeting. In advance of the meeting, the State Department released a document titled “Reaffirming the Unbreakable U.S.-Japan Alliance,” which plays up the strengthening of the bilateral relationship.
The new U.S. administration also held its first summit talks with Japan, Australia, and India online last week ahead of the 2+2 meeting. During the summit, the U.S. described China as its “only competitor.”
We welcome the U.S.’s emphasis on Asia and its alliance with Japan. However, the reality for the U.S. is that it would be difficult for it to singlehandedly confront China.
It is said that China will catch up with the U.S. in economic and military power in the next decade or so. The future of the U.S. will be determined by its ability to build a network to counter China.
Of course, it is important for Japan to deal with the issues at hand, but it also needs to look at its relationship with China from a long-term perspective.
What is important is how to balance security cooperation with the U.S. and economic cooperation with China.
Japan and the U.S. will probably be able to contain China’s egregious behavior. The stronger the solidarity of the alliance partners, the more effective it will be.
However, if the two countries regard China as an enemy and take retaliatory measures, cooperation between Japan and the U.S. will be narrowed. The alliance must not be used as a card in the [U.S.] struggle against China for hegemony.
Japan’s national interests depend on the stability and prosperity of the surrounding region. To this end, strategic dialogue with China to explore common interests is essential.