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U.S., Japan to announce military cooperation, joint NASA lunar mission

The leaders of the United States and Japan will commit this week to modernizing their military alliance, with the goal of ultimately creating a true operational hub for the Pacific’s most consequential defense partnership.

They will also present a vision for an integrated air defense network linking Japanese, Australian and American sensors, so that each country can have a complete picture of air threats in the region.

And they will announce that a Japanese astronaut will become the first non-American to participate in a NASA mission to the Moon.

These are part of a series of announcements expected this week when President Biden hosts Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a state visit on Wednesday, which will be followed a day later by a first-ever summit between Japan’s leaders , the United States and the Philippines. .

The summits are the latest demonstration of the Biden administration’s efforts to deepen what it calls a “lattice” of alliances and partnerships in the region – a clear signal to China. Underscoring the point, Japan and the United States on Sunday joined Australia and the Philippines in military exercises in the South China Sea, an area that China claims as part of its maritime dominance.

Relations with Japan in particular have deepened significantly, with Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell recently calling them “a cornerstone of our engagement in the Indo-Pacific.”

However, this progress has not occurred without certain economic tensions. More recently, Japanese officials have been frustrated by Biden’s public opposition to Nippon Steel’s $14.9 billion bid to acquire US Steel, with the president saying it was “vital” that the industrial giant in decline remains in the hands of the Americans.

But Tokyo, officials say, understands the need for Biden’s opposition to the election-year takeover and has remained outwardly placid. Both governments, stressing that it is up to businesses to resolve this issue, are determined that this will not spoil this week’s visit.

China’s growing aggressiveness in the region has brought Japan and the Philippines closer to the United States as their security interests converge. Over the past year and a half, Japan has made significant reforms to its national security and defense strategies and committed to purchasing American Tomahawk missiles and building its own counterattack capability. The Philippines has granted the US military access to more bases on its islands.

Biden administration officials say the U.S.-Japan relationship is in the strongest shape it has ever been. “There should be a permanent level of mutual trust,” said a Japanese official who, like other senior officials from both capitals, spoke at the news conference. on condition of anonymity to discuss planning for the summit.

Kishida, who will deliver a speech Thursday at a joint meeting of Congress, will also highlight Japan’s aspirations to become a world leader. At the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan, last year, Kishida rallied support for Ukraine, expanded the Global South’s participation in the meeting of advanced democracies and called for collective action against economic coercion – a veiled blow against China.

Japan, a senior Biden administration official said, aligns with the United States “in many ways as a NATO ally.”

Although Biden will express plans to strengthen the U.S. joint military command structure in Japan, he will not unveil a specific plan, a senior administration official said. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has yet to approve a plan, in consultation with the president and the new commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. Samuel Paparo, the official said.

Meanwhile, Tokyo has announced plans to create a joint operations command by 2025 to direct all Japanese military operations, a move that the United States has long sought. In exchange, Tokyo wants Washington to set up an operational command in Japan. Joint U.S. personnel operations in Japan are currently led by Indo-Pacom, headquartered in Hawaii.

“Today, if China attacked Taiwan, the United States and Japan would have difficulty mounting a combined response,” said Christopher Johnstone, Biden’s former White House senior adviser on East Asia. , who now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “With truly operational commands in Japan, we would have a much better ability to coordinate military operations in real time. »

Kishida and Biden will also discuss expanding defense equipment co-production. The Japanese already produce Patriot missiles under license from Raytheon and have committed to exporting several dozen to the United States to replenish depleted stocks sent to Ukraine and other allies. Although Biden and Kishida will not name specific weapons systems in their joint statement, an expansion of production of the Patriot could be discussed privately, as well as the possibility of establishing other new manufacturing lines in the years to coming, U.S. officials said.

The two countries will also emphasize economic investments, notably in the manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles, where Washington needs Tokyo’s help to revive production and fend off Beijing’s dominance.

“The preference is to rely on countries or governments that have values ​​more in line with ours,” said Willy Shih, a professor at Harvard Business School.

Japanese battery makers have announced investments of more than $20 billion in the United States in recent years. Toyota announced it would spend nearly $14 billion on a giant battery factory in Liberty, North Carolina, which Kishida will visit this week. Panasonic, which already operates a battery factory with Tesla in Nevada, is investing up to $4 billion in another factory in Kansas. Honda and its joint venture partner LG Energy Solution of South Korea are spending more than $4 billion on a battery plant in Ohio.

Tensions remain over what are seen as the Biden administration’s protectionist tax breaks on U.S.-made electric vehicles, but that “seems less important,” the Japanese official said, than the “question of overreliance towards China” for key products such as solar panels and critical minerals.

But, the official added, there is a deeper geostrategic problem that remains, in Tokyo’s eyes, unresolved: Washington’s resistance to joining a trans-Pacific trade pact whose 11 members include Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico and Chile. Although the Obama administration supported the trade deal and led the negotiations, negative voter sentiment heading into the 2016 election made it clear that congressional approval would be extremely difficult.

Given the protectionist impulses of both parties, the Biden administration has not seriously considered seeking to join. China and Taiwan have requested to do so.

“The presence of the United States in the most advanced free trade agreement in the world would be significant,” the official said, referring to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, better known as CP- TPP.

“We will continue to increase the strategic importance,” the official said.

The United States also has its frustrations with Japan, particularly in the area of ​​cybersecurity. Japan’s national security systems were breached by Chinese government hackers, and Washington told Tokyo it must continue to strengthen the security of its networks, including in the intelligence area.

U.S. officials have encouraged Tokyo to “hold government officials accountable for the secrets entrusted to them,” Campbell told the Center for a New American Security last week. “It is fair to say that Japan has taken some of these measures, but not all.”

Although the administration’s foreign policy focused on wars in Europe and the Middle East, it paid diplomatic attention to allies and partners in Asia and the Pacific. With Kishida’s visit on Wednesday, four of Biden’s five state dinners will have been hosted for leaders of Indo-Pacific countries, including India, South Korea and Australia. French President Emmanuel Macron also received this honor.

Christian Davenport contributed to this report.

News Source : www.washingtonpost.com
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With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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