Biden, Kishida strengthening ties to counter China, ‘puts Tokyo on the front line’

Global Times, January 14, 2023 — US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s pledge to strengthen their countries’ ties and bolster alliances in the Indo-Pacific region under the excuse of countering China – their imaginary enemy – represents a ticking bomb for the region’s hard-sustained peace, experts said, believing that Japan is also laying ground for hosting the G7 summit this year, to draw in members to concentrate on attacking China.

They believe that such “alliance,” which endows the country support of military expansion, is a double-edged sword for Tokyo, as it also pushes Japan to the front line of attack and disdain across Indo-Pacific region, as more tensions will be triggered by its ties with US. They warned China to remain on high alert against Japan and the US’ next step, especially on the Taiwan question.

“Our security alliance has never been stronger,” US and Japanese leaders said in a joint statement that included an exhaustive rundown of areas of agreement – from defense and trade to critical technologies and gender equality – but ploughed little new ground.

“At the same time, the Indo-Pacific faces growing challenges, from actions inconsistent with the rules-based international order by China to provocations by North Korea,” according to the statement.

Friday’s session at the White House followed results agreed by top military and diplomatic officials from both countries on Wednesday to strengthen Tokyo’s air, sea, land, cyber and space defenses and otherwise strengthen integration to counter China.

Kishida visits the US on the last leg of his tour of five Group of Seven nations. Japan holds the presidency of the G7 this year and will host the summit in Hiroshima in May, NHK reported. It also said that Kishida planned to brief Biden on a major shift in Japan’s security policy announced last month. It includes gaining capabilities to launch counterstrikes and large defense budget increases.

Meeting with Biden was the top priority of Kishida’s agenda, and its aim is to collude with the US to counter China, Lü Chao, an expert on the Korean Peninsula issue at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said. At the same time, Japan is laying ground for the G7 summit, which will be held in May this year, to draw members to concentrate on attacking China.

The expert also warned China to remain high alert on Japan and the US next steps, especially on the Taiwan question.

Japan’s move to boost its military ability and strengthen cooperation with the US and other European countries is actually seeing China and other neighboring countries as “imaginary enemies”; such moves will certainly bring huge uncertainty to the Indo-Pacific region, Hu Jiping, deputy head of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

In a bid to project a more positive agenda as space becomes increasingly militarized, the two countries signed a US-Japan Space Cooperation Framework Agreement on Friday to jointly explore “the moon and other celestial bodies, for peaceful purposes.”

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. He told the Global Times on Saturday that not only the move of introducing Western powers into the Indo-Pacific will undermine regional peace and stability, it also sows discord among regional countries, thus making international cooperation more difficult on issues such as economic recovery and climate change.

In response to the “2+2” security talks between Japanese and US officials, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Friday that “They claim to uphold the rules-based international order, but what they do is trampling on international law and the basic norms governing international relations and grossly interfering in other countries’ internal affairs. What they have done poses a real challenge to regional peace, security and stability.”

The strengthening of ties, seemingly to benefit Kishida’s government, is believed by Chinese experts to backfire on Tokyo more than Washington as it has put Japan at the front line of counterattacks and riskier position.

Kishida’s aggressive military expansion is depriving his country of strategic independence, and making the country closer to becoming the US’ vassal and tool for achieving hegemony in the Indo-Pacific, said experts. Such plan may win Kishida political support in the short term, but in the long run, it is made at the cost of Japan’s national interest and people’s welfare, as more money went to equip the military, so less will be used to solve Japan’s pressing social problems, such as its aging population.

Several worker and student groups have protested on the streets in Tokyo on Friday, denouncing Japan’s military expansion that disrupts people’s lives.

The Global Times learned from the organizer of the protests that based on Japan’s new documents on security, it is specifying joint combat plans with the US targeting China, and that the Japanese government is going to pass 6.8 trillion ($50 billion) military expense budget in the Japanese Diet. The Kishida government has tied itself on the US chariot, and heading all the way to war. Under this trend, Japan will be part of war in the future, the organizer said.

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