US, Japan to expand military cooperation amid China ‘challenge’

Washington, Jan 11 (EFE).- The United States and Japan will expand military cooperation in the face of the “challenge” posed by China’s foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific, according to a joint statement on Wednesday.

“The Ministers concurred that China’s foreign policy seeks to reshape the international order to its benefit and to employ China’s growing political, economic, military, and technological power to that end,” the statement issued at the end of a meeting of their foreign and defense ministers in Washington said.

“This behavior is of serious concern to the Alliance and the entire international community, and represents the greatest strategic challenge in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.”

As part of the agreement, the US pledged to reorganize the 12th Marine Regiment, based on the Japanese island of Okinawa, into a “marine littoral regiment” by 2025.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a press conference after the meeting that this new regiment will have new military capabilities, such as anti-ship missiles.

Citing recent Chinese missile tests off Japanese soil and Chinese ship maneuvers in Japanese waters near Taiwan, both governments agreed that the US military presence in the country should be optimized by “forward-deploying more versatile, resilient, and mobile capabilities.”

In addition, they agreed to deepen defense against attacks from, in or towards space, clarifying that this type of attack would fall within the assumptions protected in Article 5 of the Security Treaty between the US and Japan, which obliges the North American country to defend the archipelago.

The governments also pledged to improve cooperation on cybersecurity.

Finally, the US welcomed Japan’s recently approved new defense program guidelines, which for the first time include giving itself the ability to attack enemy bases in the event of a threat to national security, as well as a record increase in its military spending.

This is Japan’s biggest defense turnaround since World War II, with a roadmap that experts say seeks to contain China’s military rise and maintain the US’ dominant position in the Asia-Pacific region.

The meeting between the defense and foreign ministers of both countries comes two days before US President Joe Biden hosts his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida at the White House. EFE jdg/tw

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