Kishida’s new goal of increasing Japan’s defense spending to 2.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product by 2027 comes on the heels of German Olaf Scholz’s. Zeitenwende address. Days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Scholz called the war a “turning point” and was a big reason, he said, to increase Berlin’s defense spending to 2 percent of GDP. of Germany, reversing decades of wariness in military matters after the end of the Cold War. War.
Both publications are remarkable for nations with complex histories. They came a few years after Trump tried to bully allies into putting up their own barriers again. Many did so — but on Biden’s watch.
“What Kishida published is very similar to what Scholz did,” said Ian Bremmer, president of The Eurasia Group, an international risk assessment firm. Although the change is largely due to a change in the security environment, he said, “Biden’s leadership has made it easier for Japan to relax because they know he will be there. It has really slowed down.” Trump. I don’t hear Japanese leaders worried about Trump coming back.
Kishida’s trip to Washington was the last stop in a week-long trip to meet with G-7 leaders ahead of a May summit he will host in his hometown of Hiroshima that will focus on abolition. nuclear weapons. It also comes as he has become weak at home due to a series of misdeeds.
“Kishida wants a hug from Biden, and Biden can give it to him,” said Joshua Walker, president and CEO of the Japanese Society of America.
With little progress on a trans-Pacific trade agreement, the meetings will continue to focus on defense and technology issues, limiting exports of semiconductors to China.
They could also address Japan’s concerns about regional stability, which have deepened amid North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s resumption of aggressive missile and missile tests. and China for Taiwan.
“Most of Tokyo’s concerns are focused on China, but North Korea continues to show that it should not be ignored,” said Sheila Smith, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The long-term balance of power across the Indo-Pacific will be determined by combining the strategies of Japan, the US, Australia and India.”
Both Biden and Kishida agree with that. The White House, meanwhile, has been heartened by Kishida’s response to the conflict in Ukraine – which began just months after his election – and his willingness to condemn the Russian invasion and the decision tough sanctions against the US and European allies. That’s a major turnaround from 2014, when Japan sought to avoid taking sides following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. In an interview last week with the Washington Post, Kishida reiterated Biden’s view that Moscow’s unprovoked attack was not only the end of eastern Europe but also of global order.
“We’re seeing more convergence of Japan’s worldview and the US’s worldview,” said a senior administration official, who declined to comment on the bilateral meetings on the nameless. Tokyo’s move to take a more defensive stance, the official continued, “shows how much confidence comes from American investments in the relationship.”
No news conference was scheduled after Friday’s bipartisan meeting. Instead, the announcement that Biden and Kishida will make will come in the form of a joint statement outlining topics on defense, space cooperation and cyber security.
“Our partners in China are watching this,” Walker said. “The joint talks appear to be stronger than anything we’ve seen because Japan’s desire not to name China is waning under Kishida.”
James Schoff, a senior Pentagon adviser on East Asia policy and now executive director of the DC-based Sasakawa Peace Foundation, said it looks like “a laundry list. But I think about body language and [projecting] The idea is that we know what challenges are in front of us, we are closing, hand in hand, working to deal with them.”
Most of the “deliverables” that will come out of Friday’s meeting were written on Wednesday in a joint statement by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Japanese counterparts, Yoshimasa Hayashi and Yasukazu Hamada.
On the defense side, the two countries have agreed to increase the US military presence on the island of Okinawa, a project to enhance the ability to stop ships if the Chinese came to Taiwan. They also announced plans to add overseas territories to the scope of the U.S.-Japan security treaty and to begin military operations in 2027.
“I hope the meeting lasts several hours,” said Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), former U.S. ambassador to Japan. “I hope you’ll see a very supportive Biden administration talking about how we’re going to find ways to increase our [military] working together… to improve the efficiency of the military procurement process because we [Japan’s] the largest supplier of military weapons.”