The United States and Japan announce joint military cooperation on NASA's lunar mission – Global News (Trending Perfect)


The leaders of the United States and Japan will commit this week to modernizing their military alliance, with the aim of creating a true operational hub for the Pacific region's most important defense partnership.

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

They will announce that a Japanese astronaut will become the first non-American on NASA's mission to the moon.

These are among a host of announcements expected this week when President Biden welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a state visit on Wednesday, followed the next day by a first-ever summit between the leaders of Japan, the United States and the Philippines. .

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

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

But the gains were not without some economic pressures. More recently, Japanese officials have been frustrated by Biden's public opposition to Nippon Steel's $14.9 billion bid to take over US Steel, with the president saying it was “vital” for the fading industrial giant to remain in American hands.

But Tokyo, officials there say, understands the necessity of opposing Biden's election-year power grab and has outwardly remained quiet. The two governments stressed that it was up to companies to resolve the matter, and were determined not to spoil this week's visit.

China's increasing aggressiveness in the region has brought Japan and the Philippines closer to the United States as their security interests converge. In the past year and a half, Japan has made major reforms to its national security and defense strategies, and has committed to purchasing American Tomahawk missiles and building its own counter-strike capabilities. The Philippines granted the US military access to more bases on its islands.

Biden administration officials say the relationship between the United States and Japan is in its strongest form ever. “There must be a permanent level of mutual trust,” said one Japanese official, who spoke like other senior officials in both capitals. On the condition of anonymity to discuss planning for the summit.

Kishida, who will deliver a speech on Thursday before a joint meeting of Congress, will highlight Japan's aspirations to become a global leader. At the G7 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 thinly veiled criticism of China.

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

A senior administration official said that although Biden will express his intention to strengthen the structure of the joint US military command in Japan, he will not reveal a specific plan. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has yet to approve the plan, in consultation with the president and the incoming commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. The official, Samuel Paparo, said.

Meanwhile, Tokyo announced plans to establish a Joint Operations Command by 2025 to guide everyone Japanese military operations, a move long sought by the United States. In return, Tokyo wants Washington to do so Formation of the operational command in Japan. The joint operations of US personnel in Japan are currently managed by Indo-Pacom, which is headquartered in Hawaii.

“Today, if China attacked Taiwan, the United States and Japan would struggle to formulate a joint response,” said Christopher Johnston, a former top Biden White House aide for East Asia who now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “With a true operational command in Japan, we will have a much better ability to coordinate military operations in real time.”

Kishida and Biden will also discuss expanding joint production of defense equipment. The Japanese already produce Patriot missiles under license from Raytheon and have pledged to export dozens of them to the United States to refill depleted stocks sent to Ukraine and other allies. Although Biden and Kishida will not mention specific weapons systems in their joint statement, expansion of Patriot production could be discussed privately, along with the possibility of establishing other new manufacturing lines in the coming years, US officials said.

The two countries will also highlight economic investments, particularly in electric vehicle battery manufacturing, where Washington needs Tokyo's help to start production and stave off Beijing's dominance.

“Preference is to rely on countries or governments that have values ​​more consistent with ours,” said Willie Shih, a professor at Harvard Business School.

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

The Japanese official said there were still tensions over what are seen as the Biden administration's protectionist tax breaks on US-made electric vehicles, but this “seems less important” than “the issue of over-reliance on China” for key goods such as solar panels and critical metals. .

But the official added that a deeper geostrategic issue remains, in Tokyo's view, unresolved: Washington's resistance to joining the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement, whose 11 members include Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico and Chile. Although the Obama administration supported the trade agreement and led the negotiations, negative voter sentiment in the run-up to the 2016 elections made it clear that congressional approval would be very difficult.

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

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

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

The United States feels its frustrations with Japan as well, especially in the area of ​​cybersecurity. Japan's national security systems have been compromised by Chinese government hackers, and Washington has told Tokyo that it needs to continue strengthening its network security, including in the field of intelligence.

Campbell said last week at the Center for a New American Security that US officials encouraged Tokyo “to hold government officials accountable for the secrets they trust.” “It is fair to say that Japan has taken some of these steps, but not all of them.”

Although the administration's foreign policy focus has been on the wars in Europe and the Middle East, it has lavished diplomatic attention on allies and partners in Asia and the Pacific. With Kishida's visit on Wednesday, four of Biden's five state dinners will be held for leaders of Indo-Pacific countries, including India, South Korea and Australia. French President Emmanuel Macron was also honored.

Christian Davenport contributed to this report.



Leave a comment