US-Japan Alliance Digest Vol 1.17

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Publications US-Japan Alliance Digest Vol 1.17

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Headlines


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  • Two high-level US-Japan-Korea meetings discuss regional tensions
  • US-Japan defense leaders hold first meeting in Washington
  • US and Japan conduct large bilateral ground force exercises
  • Okinawa re-elects Denny Tamaki to second term as governor
  • First in-person summit of Indo-Pacific Economic Framework convenes

Details

  • A trilateral meeting in Tokyo of the partners’ top North Korea nuclear envoys on September 7 agreed to strengthen security cooperation amid rising North Korean nuclear threats. Two days later North Korean state media reported that a new law was passed enshrining the country’s right to use preemptive nuclear strikes to protect itself, with leader Kim Jong Un declaring the country’s nuclear status to be “irreversible.” This followed another trilateral meeting on August 31 at US Indo-Pacific Command involving national security advisors Sullivan, Akiba, and Kim to discuss alliance responses to Chinese pressure against Taiwan. On the bilateral front, Japan and South Korea’s vice-defense ministers met for the first time in six years in Seoul on September 7, as polls show marginal improvement in public sentiment in each country about the other. In a recent poll conducted by Genron NPO and the East Asia Institute, both Japanese and South Koreans see each other’s country more favorably than last year by 8.5 points and 10.4 points, respectively.
  • Defense Minister Hamada visited Washington on September 14 and met Defense Secretary Austin to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation, including efforts to modernize the alliance and bolster integrated deterrence. It was their first in-person meeting since Hamada assumed his role in August. Austin pledged a “responsible, steady and resolute” response as an alliance to “China’s coercive actions in the Taiwan Strait and the waters surrounding Japan.”
  • Orient Shield 22, the largest annual joint training operation between the US Army and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force concluded on September 3. The weeklong Japan-based exercise began in 1985 and now focuses on enhancing interoperability and cross-domain operations. Following the exercises, US Army Pacific Commander, General Charles Flynn said he intends to keep the US High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) missile systems in Japan at Camp Amami as a way to position capabilities forward and facilitate their use in future bilateral exercises.
  • Denny Tamaki was reelected for a second term as Governor of Okinawa on September 11. Tamaki pledged to use the mandate to demand that Tokyo relocate US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma outside of the prefecture. Despite the result, Prime Minister Kishida recommitted to following through on the current project of relocation to a less populated part of Okinawa, so continued friction on this issue is likely. Tamaki’s margin of victory, while slightly narrower than his election in 2018, was still convincing given that he received more votes than the two challengers combined. Turnout was down roughly five points to 58 percent of eligible voters, compared to 2018.
  • Commerce Secretary Raimondo and US Trade Representative Tai convened the first official meeting of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) with 13 partner nations in Los Angeles on September 8-9. Economy Minister Nishimura attended from Japan. Participants discussed the IPEF’s four pillars: trade, supply chains, clean economy, and a fair economy. They sought to advance mutual understanding to support more detailed negotiations on each pillar in the coming year. Two days earlier, Raimondo had a telephone dialogue with Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi as part of bilateral preparation for the IPEF meeting.

“US-Japan Alliance Digest” is a bi-weekly summary of bilateral and related developments compiled by Sasakawa USA’s “US-Japan NEXT Alliance Initiative.” To receive “Alliance Digest” via email, contact egulum@spfusa.org.

Download US-Japan Alliance Digest Vol 1.17

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