US calls for deeper ties with Japan as China, North Korea cast shadows Business and economic news
Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlights economic ties between the United States and Japan by highlighting vulnerabilities in global supply chains during a pandemic.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday called for closer economic ties with Japan, as he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sought to use their first overseas trip to strengthen Asian alliances as a bulwark against China’s assertion.
Their visit to Tokyo and Seoul is the first overseas trip for senior officials in President Joe Biden’s administration and follows a virtual summit last week of leaders from the United States, Japan, Australia. and India – the so-called Quad Alliance.
The issues on the agenda range from freedom of navigation in the South and East China Seas to North Korea, the military coup in Myanmar and the security of semiconductor supply chains.
“The economic relationship between the United States and Japan is, as you very well know, one of the strongest in the world,” Blinken said in a speech to a group of business leaders in Tokyo on Tuesday.
He said the pandemic had exposed vulnerabilities in global supply chains for critical products, including medical equipment, supplies and semiconductors.
Countries must work together to build secure and resilient supply chains for the future, he said.
North Korea will likely be at the center of concerns after the White House says Pyongyang has so far pushed back US efforts to engage in dialogue.
North Korea has warned the new US administration against “causing a stench“If he wants peace,” North Korean state media reported Tuesday when Blinken and Austin arrived in Japan.
The trip sends an “important signal of determination to work with the allies” as the region faces increasing pressure from China and a continuing threat from the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs of the United States. North Korea’s Sung Kim, acting deputy secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs told reporters at a briefing ahead of the visit.
The top of the Quad promised to work to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific, a top priority for Tokyo, and to cooperate on maritime safeguards, cybersecurity and economics in the face of Beijing’s challenges.
Analysts also expect Japan to seek U.S. support for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and follow-up discussions on other topics that were on the Quad summit, such as the pledge to boost the COVID-19 vaccine supply in Asia and climate change.
Diplomacy is back at the center of American foreign policy. Today, I am on my way to Tokyo and Seoul to discuss how the United States will strengthen our cooperation in the #IndoPacific and around the world with two of our closest allies. pic.twitter.com/m9s0VBeNiD
– Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) March 14, 2021
The pair are also expected to pay a courtesy visit to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is expected to visit the White House as the first foreign leader to meet with Biden in April.
Blinken and Austin will meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi in so-called 2 plus 2 talks.
According to Japanese broadcaster NHK, China should be among the meeting’s priorities.
The two sides are likely to share concerns about China’s growing maritime reach, as well as its new coastguard law, which allows its coastguards to use weapons in waters that Beijing considers to be under its jurisdiction.
U.S. and Japanese officials are also expected to say Article Five of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty applies to the disputed Senkaku Islands, which are controlled by Japan but claimed by China.
The article obliges the United States to defend the territories under the administrative control of Japan.
The two officials are expected to leave Tokyo for Seoul on Wednesday and meet with their counterparts in the South Korean capital until Thursday.
They will then return to the United States where they will meet the best Chinese diplomats, Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi in Anchorage, Alaska.