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Editorial: Strengthen China strategy through close Japan-U.S.-Australia partnership

The Kishida administration has fully launched its foreign and defense policy. Following Japan’s summit talks with Australia, a meeting of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”) was held. We would like to see Japan enhance cooperation with the United States and Australia, two countries with which Japan shares common values, and then hurry to create a comprehensive strategy to ensure the stability of the region.

 

After taking office as prime minister, Kishida Fumio sought to visit the United States at an early date for a summit meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden. This has not been possible, however, due to factors on the U.S. side, including the spread of COVID-19. It was not possible for Prime Minister Kishida to meet in person with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison either, and so the recent discussion was held online.

 

China will continue to be the focus of Japan’s foreign and defense policy again this year.

 

On Jan. 6, the Japanese and Australian governments signed an agreement to facilitate joint exercises between the Self-Defense Forces and the Australian Defense Force, with deterrence against China in mind. The Jan. 7 Joint Statement of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee stipulates a plan to engage in joint research and development on advanced technologies to counter “hypersonic missiles,” which far exceed the speed of sound.

 

China and Russia have rushed to develop these missiles, which are difficult to track and intercept. North Korea also claims it test-fired this kind of missile on Jan. 5. Japan needs to look squarely at the reality that weapons are being rapidly diversified and rapidly deployed in areas surrounding Japan.

 

The military balance of power in East Asia is beginning to crumble as China has increased its defense spending more than 40-fold over the last 30 years. By year-end, Japan plans to revise its three key defense documents, including the National Security Strategy. It’s time for Japan to deepen discussions of what is most necessary and effective to protect the nation.

 

COVID has spread in areas surrounding U.S. military bases in Japan, and concern is growing in the local communities. The governments of both countries should take the matter seriously because the broad understanding of the people of Japan is the foundation of the alliance between the two nations.

 

In addition to strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, multilateral cooperation is also of increasing importance. Solidifying the core framework among Japan, the United States, and Australia, which share the priorities of freedom and democracy, will facilitate the functioning of the Quad, which includes India.

 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China. Prime Minister Kishida says he will promote “a diplomacy of realism for the new era.” As an Asian neighbor, it is important for Japan to foster mutual understanding with China through dialogue while strengthening deterrence in view of the increasingly tense situations surrounding the Senkaku Islands and the Taiwan Strait. It will be a year when the true worth of Kishida’s diplomacy, which prioritizes balance, will be put to the test.

 

It is a pity that Japan’s chilly diplomatic ties with South Korea have been prolonged and no way forward has been found toward the resolution of the abductions issue with North Korea or toward Northern Territories negotiations with Russia. We look forward to Kishida’s engaging in shrewd and solid diplomacy.

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