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U.S., Japan Meeting Indo-Pacific Challenges

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meet virtually with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. (File)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Japanese counterparts reaffirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

U.S., Japan Meeting Indo-Pacific Challenges
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently met with their Japanese counterparts Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo at the virtual U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee Meeting.

The Ministers strongly reaffirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and recognized the U.S.-Japan Alliance’s critical role as the cornerstone of regional peace, security, and prosperity.

Secretary Blinken stressed that the U.S.-Japan alliance is stronger than ever and it “needs to be to meet the challenges that we face today”:

“China and Russia continue to violate international norms – on land, at sea, in space, in cyberspace. Beijing’s provocative actions keep raising tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and in the East and South China Seas. Moscow’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders and its increasingly harsh rhetoric not only threaten Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but peace and stability across Europe. And Beijing and Moscow are deepening their military cooperation. Meanwhile, the DPRK’s unlawful nuclear and missile programs pose an ongoing threat, and we saw that again. . .with the most recent launch.”

To address these evolving threats, said Secretary Blinken, “our alliance must not only strengthen the tools we have, but also develop new ones.”

Japan reiterated its resolve to reinforce its defense capabilities to bolster its national defense and contribute to regional peace and stability. The United States expressed its unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan under the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, using its full range of capabilities, including nuclear.

The United States remains committed to opposing any unilateral action that seeks to change the status quo or to undermine Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands.

The Ministers also expressed serious and ongoing concerns about human rights issues in the People’s Republic of China Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and Hong Kong. They committed to cooperate with all who share a commitment to respect for freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and a free and fair economic order.

“We’re fostering greater coordination with other allies and partners,” said Secretary Blinken, “reinvigorating the Quad, together with India and Australia; deepening U.S.-Japan-South Korea trilateral ties.”

“For these and so many other reasons,” said Secretary Blinken, “our alliance has never been more crucial to realizing a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”