Analysis & Opinions - The Diplomat

Japan, US Emphasize Security Cooperation During Kishida Visit

| Jan. 18, 2023

The Japanese prime minister's U.S. visit, and the latest 2+2 consultations, emphasized an even-closer alliance amid Japan's changing security posture.

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio had a busy week: From January 9 to 13, he visited five of the six other G-7 nations. The tour was meant to confirm fellow G-7 members' positions on the issues that will be raised at the G-7 summit to be held this May in Hiroshima. Overall, Kishida deemed his visits to France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States a success. He also intends to meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at some point before the summit.

Kishida's visit to the United States was significant for the broad range of issues that were brought up — from Japan's overture to the United States to return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)  to an agreement on space cooperation — and the historic nature of changes in Japan’s defense posture preceding Kishida’s visit.

Last December, Kishida's government released three key security documents: the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, and the Defense Buildup Program. One of the major changes in the new documents is Japan's decision to acquire counterstrike capabilities. Related to the adoption of the new strategies, the government has also committed to a massive increase in defense spending, from 1 percent of GDP in 2022 to 2 percent of GDP in 2027.

During Kishida's summit meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, Biden praised Kishida's efforts to increase Japan's defense capability. Biden and Kishida affirmed their shared criticisms of Russia, China, and North Korea, as well as their shared commitments to the free and open Indo-Pacific and to "modernizing" the military alliance and increasing the alliance's deterrence and response capability. For example, Kishida and Biden are both in favor of Japan's plans to procure U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Biden also reassured Kishida of full U.S. support for the defense of Japan, "using its full range of capabilities, including nuclear." One can only wonder what Kishida's inner reception to this reassurance was, as he is personally committed to abolishing nuclear weapons from the world. Biden also reiterated that Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty covered the disputed Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Japan but claimed by China as the Diaoyu Islands. In a separate conversation, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also confirmed that an attack in space would trigger the mutual defense provision in the Security Treaty....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Pollmann, Mina.“Japan, US Emphasize Security Cooperation During Kishida Visit.” The Diplomat, January 18, 2023.