Japan's Kishida warns the world of a “historic turning point” while promoting the US alliance ahead of the Biden summit


Tokyo
CNN

Rising geopolitical tensions have pushed the world to a “historic turning point” and it is poignant Japan Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told CNN on Sunday, before the summit, that Japan would change its defensive stance. A closely watched summit With US President Joe Biden next week.

“As we witness the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the ongoing situation in the Middle East, as well as the situation in East Asia, we are facing a historic turning point,” Kishida said during an interview at his private residence in Tokyo.

“For this reason, Japan has taken the decision to fundamentally strengthen its defense capabilities, and we have significantly changed Japan's security policy on these fronts,” he said.

The prime minister stressed that in the face of growing security challenges, the Japan-U.S. alliance is “more important than ever,” a view he said he hopes will find bipartisan support in Washington.

Kishida made the remarks days before his meeting on Wednesday with Biden in Washington, where he will also address a joint session of Congress and participate in the first trilateral summit between Japan, the United States and the Philippines.

Washington described the Kishida-Biden summit as a historic opportunity for the two countries to modernize their alliance as they both eye regional threats from Weapons tests in North Korea The burgeoning relations with Russia have led to China's aggression in the South China Sea and toward Taiwan.

The partnership with Japan has long been central to US strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, but the defense relationship has expanded under Kishida, who has raised Japan's profile in global and regional security.

Since taking office in 2021, the prime minister has overseen a radical shift in Tokyo's defense posture, moving away from the pacifist constitution imposed on it by the United States in the wake of World War II, to Boost defense spending to about 2% of its GDP by 2027 and acquire counter-strike capabilities.

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The move is not without controversy, especially in China and other parts of Asia that suffered greatly under Japanese militarism in the World War II era.

When asked about this shift, Kishida pointed to the “sharp and complex” security environment surrounding his East Asian country, which is the world’s fourth-largest economy.

“In our neighbourhood, there are countries developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, and other countries working to build up their defense capabilities in a mysterious way. There is also a unilateral attempt to forcefully change the status quo in both the East China Sea and the South China Sea.” Chinese naval aggression Related to territorial disputes with both the Philippines and Japan.

He added that building Japan's deterrence and response capacity is also “essential” to the alliance with the United States.

“I hope that the United States understands this, and that we can work together to improve peace and stability in the region. I think it is important that we show the rest of the world that the United States and Japan will further develop our cooperation through my visit,” Kishida said.

Next week's events will also serve as a platform for deepening expansion between Japan and another key US regional partner and mutual defense treaty ally, the Philippines.

It comes less than a year later Pioneering meeting Between the United States, Japan and South Korea – the two summits emphasized Japan's centrality in the US security strategy in the Indo-Pacific region and pushed for increased coordination with allies and partners amid escalating regional tensions.

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Kishida's visit with Biden next week also comes as the two leaders face uncertain circumstances at home.

The Japanese Prime Minister faces poor approval ratings, especially in the wake of scandals involving his party, and the imminent US elections raise the possibility of a change in policy if former President Donald Trump returns to the White House next year.

Both during his administration and in recent years, Trump has done just that Pour cold water repeatedly Regarding Washington's defense and security treaties, which has raised concerns among allies in both Asia and Europe alike.

Kishida declined to comment on whether he was concerned about the former president's return. Instead, he believed that the importance of the US-Japan alliance was widely recognized “regardless of party affiliations.”

“The relationship between Japan and the United States is stronger than ever… Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, I think it is important to make sure that the American people understand the importance of the Japan-US relationship,” he said. .

Since taking office, Kishida has also worked to position Japan as a partner of the United States, not only in Asia, but globally as well.

He has championed the view that security in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region are inextricably linked, while appearing as a strong supporter of Ukraine and aligning closely with G7 countries in its stance on Russia.

These links were close to Japan's homeland, such as the Russian and Chinese armies Conduct joint exercises In the region, the G7 countries have now accused North Korea Supplying Moscow with weapons For use in its war in Ukraine – raising global concerns about an emerging axis between the three countries that have tense relations with the United States.

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Kishida also noted that his government is taking “high-level approaches” to secure a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to resolve “outstanding issues” and promote stable relations between the two countries.

Japan, along with South Korea, is on the front lines of North Korea's aggressive weapons testing program, regularly dropping its test missiles into territorial waters. Issue Kidnapping of Japanese citizens North Korea's decades-old sanctions have also been a particularly emotional point of contention.

Kishida said his government is monitoring the exchange of equipment between Pyongyang and Moscow and pointed to joint military exercises between China and Russia, describing this cooperation as “worrying with regard to international order and stability.”

“At the same time, it is important to convey a firm message to North Korea and China that it is important for peace, stability and prosperity in the international community to maintain a free and open international order based on the rule of law,” Kishida said.

He added: “We must also cooperate with them to strengthen a strong international community, not a community of division and confrontation.” “I believe it is important to cooperate with the United States and our allies to create an atmosphere of cooperation, not division and confrontation, for the advancement of the international community.”

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