Japan, US to hold security talks before Kishida meets Biden

Japan, US to hold security talks before Kishida meets Biden

TOKYO (AP) – Japan and the United States will hold security talks between their foreign and defense ministers in Washington the day before Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida lands in the US capital next week to conclude his tour of the Group of Seven nations , while Tokyo is expanding its military and deepening its alliance with America amid China’s growing influence.

Kishida will embark on a six-nation trip to France, Italy, Britain and Canada on Monday ahead of his summit with US President Joe Biden on Monday.

Defense Secretary Yasukazu Hamada and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will fly to Washington to join their US counterparts Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken for their “2+2” security talks on Wednesday, ahead of their leaders’ summit at the White House, Japanese officials said officials on Friday.

The “2+2” talks are expected to focus on their new national security strategies, released by Japan in mid-December and the United States in October, and how the two allies plan to address security concerns, including China, North Korea and Russia.

“We will discuss strengthening the deterrence and response capability of the Japan-US alliance as we consider our new strategy documents,” Hamada told reporters.

Hamada said Friday that he and Austin will hold separate bilateral defense talks Thursday to discuss details of how their militaries can expand and deepen their operations. Asked if they will discuss revising their current defense policy based on Japan’s more defensive role, Hamada said nothing has been decided yet.

Japan adopted a series of three security and defense strategy documents in December, deviating from its purely self-defense stance. Under the new strategies, Japan vows to build up its counter-strike capability with long-range cruise missiles capable of reaching potential targets in China, to double its defense budget within five years, and to encourage the development of advanced weapons.

US officials have welcomed Japan’s willingness to take on a more offensive role, while experts say it could also help expand cooperation with Australia, its key regional defense partner.

Kishida on Wednesday said his talks with Biden would underscore the strength of the Japan-US alliance and highlight closer cooperation between the countries as part of Japan’s new security and defense strategies adopted last month.

Kishida said coordination with other G-7 leaders ahead of the Hiroshima summit he will host in May is a key purpose of his trip, but Japanese officials said their talks would also focus on security and military cooperation.

Kishida plans to discuss further deepening security ties with France through joint military exercises. Japan’s joint development and production of its next-generation FX fighter jet with Italy and the UK for deployment in 2035 will be high on his agenda during his visit to Rome and London as they seek to further develop their military ties.

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