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The United States and Japan hold “2+2” talks to deepen the alliance to contain China’s growing military threat

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, and Japanese Defense Minister Yasuichi Hamada held a joint press conference after talks at the headquarters of the U.S. Department of State in Washington. (11 January 2023)
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, and Japanese Defense Minister Yasuichi Hamada held a joint press conference after talks at the headquarters of the U.S. Department of State in Washington. (11 January 2023)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE — The United States and Japan deepened their strategic alliance, outlining in a joint statement actions to deter China’s growing military threat in the East China Sea and around Taiwan.

These actions include plans to reorganize U.S. Marine Corps forces in Okinawa and new agreements for cooperation in space and advanced military technology.

On Wednesday (Jan. 11), U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a consultative meeting known as the “2+2” talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada.

While China is trying to “establish a new normal” in the Taiwan Strait by stepping up its provocative military activities, Austin said that does not equate to a sign that China will soon invade Taiwan.

Austin told reporters at a joint news conference: “We are seeing an increase in air activity in the (Taiwan) Strait, and we see an increase in surface ship activity around Taiwan.”

“But whether that means an invasion is imminent, I have serious doubts,” he added: Blinken

said China has been trying to “undermine the long-standing status quo that maintains peace and stability in the [Taiwan Strait],” while the U.S. wants to consolidate it.

“We will continue to maintain peace and stability in a calm and decisive manner,” the top U.S. diplomat said. ”

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The joint statement released late Wednesday said the United States and Japan will advance bilateral modernization efforts to build “a more capable, more complete, and more flexible alliance that enhances deterrence.”

The two countries will also optimize their military posture in the Indo-Pacific by establishing a new U.S. Marine Littoral Regiment in Okinawa by 2025. Officials said the new regiment would be equipped with anti-ship and other advanced capabilities.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the two countries would take “peacetime joint actions to deter armed attacks that destabilize the region.”

Japanese Defense Minister Yasuichi Hamada added that the two allies will expand the joint use of

Japanese facilities while increasing joint exercises and troop training.

Austin and Hamada will meet again at the Pentagon on Thursday.

On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden will host Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

A senior administration official told Reuters that the two leaders are expected to discuss security and global issues, as well as semiconductor exports to China.

Earlier Wednesday, Rear Adm. Michael Studeman, director of U.S. naval intelligence, said at a virtual event that the People’s Republic of China continues to pressure Taiwan by increasing military activity.

“The Chinese continue to deploy a large number of aircraft and patrol ships on all axes around Taiwan, and they are trying to both put pressure on Taiwan and signal to the United States and other allies to make their position clear,” Stoudeman said. ”

1 question discussed by #Taiwan -“How do we actually continue to fight & operate if & when the Chinese may do something very serious w/their forces which has a higher likelihood than ever before” per RADM Studeman

— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) January 11, 2023

He added: “The risk has risen and this level of danger needs to be taken very seriously. ”

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“The Chinese continue to put a lot of aircraft & patrollers in all axes around #Taiwan as they attempt to pressure both Taiwan & signal to the United States & other allies about where they stand on things” per RADM Studeman

— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) January 11, 2023

A recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think tank, said that in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the United States must be able to conduct combat operations using U.S. military bases in Japan.

“Without the use of Japanese bases, U.S. fighter and attack aircraft cannot effectively participate in combat,” the report states.

As the United States and Japan deepen their strategic alliance, Japan has released a new national security strategy that calls for nearly doubling defense spending over the next five years and deploying missiles capable of striking other countries’ military targets for the first time.

On Wednesday, Japan also pledged with Britain to strengthen security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Fumio Kishida, who is visiting London, signed a landmark defense agreement with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The agreement allowed British troops to be deployed to Japan. British officials said it was “the most important defense agreement between the two countries in more than a century.”

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