U.S. Secretaries of State, Defense visit Japan, no plans for Xi’s visit

U.S. Secretary of State John Blinken and Secretary of Defense John Austin are scheduled to visit Japan from March 15 for talks on foreign policy and security issues, Reuters disclosed on March 4, citing several government sources.

The sources said Blinken and Austin are preparing for a “2+2” dialogue with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimichi Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. This will be the first visit to Japan by U.S. Cabinet officials since the Biden administration took office. The public statement by Blinken that “addressing the Chinese Communist challenge” is one of the eight priorities of U.S. diplomacy has attracted particular attention from the public.

According to diplomatic sources cited by Kyodo News on Thursday, Xi’s visit to Japan as a state guest has been “postponed indefinitely” in light of the confrontation between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands (known in China as the Diaoyu Islands). The results of an opinion poll released by The Japanese Cabinet Office last month showed that nearly 82 percent of respondents thought current Japan-China relations were “not good” and more than 77 percent of respondents “did not feel close” to China.