America and Japan extend their defense alliance to space
At the end of a ministerial meeting held in Washington, the United States and Japan announced their intention to strengthen their defense alliance to also repel any attack from space, a move that comes amid rising threats from China and North Korea and tensions around Taiwan.Washington-backed also what Tokyo announced last month: an ambitious plan to develop its military capabilities.
A joint statement released after a meeting of foreign and defense ministers in Washington on Wednesday said the two countries had “presented a vision of a modern alliance that would be sovereign in a new era of strategic competition.”
“We agree that China is the greatest shared strategic challenge facing us and our allies and partners,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said at a joint press conference after the meeting.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also announced a naval cooperation with Japan that will provide major capabilities, including anti-ship missiles.
Blinken said the two sides also agreed to extend the terms of the mutual defense pact to outer space.
The joint statement said that given the “very competitive environment”, the position of US forces in Japan should be strengthened “through the deployment of more diverse, flexible and mobile forces with improved surveillance, reconnaissance and transport capabilities”.
Blinken confirmed during the press conference that the United States “warmly welcomes” the new defense strategy recently adopted by Japan and made it clear that the two countries agreed that the mutual defense treaty between them includes attacks that occur through space, in a move that falls in the midst of expanding Chinese capacity through satellites.
He added that this deal means that any attack through space against either country would activate Article 5 of the bilateral defense treaty, which states that any attack on either country is also an attack on the other country.
For his part, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said his country would deploy a US Marine Corps rapid reaction force to the island of Okinawa in southern Japan to bolster its ally’s defense capabilities in the face of growing Chinese threats.
Austin said, “By 2025, we will replace an artillery battalion with this force that will be deadlier and more mobile,” in an “increasingly challenging security environment.”
Austin will meet Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada again at the Pentagon before a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.
A senior administration official told Reuters that Biden and Kishida are expected to discuss security issues and the global economy, and that their talks are likely to include monitoring semiconductor exports to China after Washington announced tough restrictions last year.
Last month, Japan unveiled its biggest military spending plan since World War II, worth $320 billion, to buy missiles capable of hitting China and prepare the country for potential conflict as regional tensions and Russia’s war on Ukraine stoked war fears stoke
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters yesterday, “In the framework of bilateral military cooperation, the United States and Japan must ensure not to harm the interests of third parties or regional peace and stability.”
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