US-Japan Alliance Digest Vol 3.2

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Publications US-Japan Alliance Digest Vol 3.2

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Happy New Year Headlines:

Image Source: Kyodo News

  • Japan signs letter of acceptance for 400 US Tomahawk missiles
  • Nippon Steel executives discuss US Steel purchase with Congress
  • Allies deepen trilateral ties through dialogue and military exercises
  • Honda and General Motors join to mass produce hydrogen fuel cells
  • Allies explore possible repair of US warships at Japanese shipyards


  • Defense Minister Minoru Kihara and Amb Emmanuel attended a ceremony on Jan 18 where Japan signed a contract (letter of offer and acceptance) for 400 US Tomahawk cruise missiles. The roughly $2bn deal has been planned for over a year. Emmanuel said, “the procurement process is the beginning of a whole integration in the US and Japan on the technology and training front that brings a level of credibility to our collective deterrence that we all want to see.” The Block IV and Block V long-range missiles with a range of 1,000 miles will be deployed on JMSDF vessels with personnel receiving training on the weapon systems from the US military. They are set to be in service by 2025-2027, earlier than originally planned, given the “severest” situation around Japan since WWII, according to its government.
  • Nippon Steel Vice President Takahiro Mori met with lawmakers in Washington to discuss his company’s planned $14B acquisition of US Steel announced at the end of 2023. Some lawmakers and union leaders expressed concerns about the acquisition, which will be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US. Separately, Nippon Steel executives wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal saying, “Our investment reaffirms the strength of the US economy, the value of American employees, and the ability of the US steel industry to compete globally. The US and Japan benefit from an alliance that advances shared values, and our two companies can do the same.” Other US editorials by the Washington Post and columnist George Will have argued that the deal should benefit all involved.
  • The US, Japan, and South Korea (ROK) engaged in naval exercises in the East China Sea from Jan 15-17. The 3-day exercise involved the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and focused on trilateral comms, interdiction training, aerial combat, and staff exchanges. Meanwhile, US Senior Official for North Korea Jung Pak met with ROK Special Rep. for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Kim and Japan MOFA Dir. Gen. for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Namazu in Seoul on Jan 17-18 to hold the latest round of trilateral consultations on North Korea, following the North’s launch of its first solid-propellant intermediate-range ballistic missile. Separately, Kim Jong-Un ordered the demolition of the Arch of Reunification in Pyongyang in late January and said that reunification with the South was no longer possible.
  • Honda Motor Co. announced on Jan 24 that it began mass production of hydrogen fuel cells with General Motors in a joint-venture production facility in suburban Detroit. Honda outlined its vision for reaching carbon neutrality through production of 2,000 fuel cells annually to be used in vehicles, power stations, and construction machinery.
  • The US and Japan established a working group on Jan 19 that will explore the possibility of allowing US naval ships to be repaired in private Japanese shipyards. US Amb Emanuel said it would reduce the time warships are out of service and thus bolster deterrence. The Ship Repair Council Japan seeks to address the nearly $1.8 billion in overdue repairs by joining the public and private sector resources of both countries. The Council will include the US Navy, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and US and Japanese private companies.

“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

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