U.S.-Japan talks statement criticizes China for not abiding by international order Japanese professor comments

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimichi Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi attend the 2 plus 2 ministerial meeting in Tokyo. 16 March 2021 REUTERS – POOL

The 2 plus 2 meeting, known as the U.S.-Japan Security Agreement Committee, lasted about an hour and 30 minutes in Tokyo on March 16. After the meeting, a joint statement was issued, criticizing China by name for not adhering to the international order and being inconsistent with it, making the US-Japan alliance and the international community face challenges. The joint document also expressed serious doubts about China’s recent implementation of a maritime police law that allows the use of force against foreign vessels. The document also notes that the two ministers stressed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

The joint paper, attended by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, along with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimichi Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, also states that the United States will assist in the defense of the Diaoyutai Islands (known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands), based on Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which obligates the United States to defend Japan. The document also states that the U.S. will assist in the defense of Japanese territory, including the Diaoyutai Islands (known as the Senkaku Islands in Japanese), based on the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty’s Article 5 obligations, and clearly states that it continues to oppose any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo or undermine Japanese governance of the Diaoyutai Islands.

The joint paper also expressed serious doubts about the human rights issues in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and confirmed the need to deal with the full denuclearization of North Korea and to resolve the issue of Japanese abductees by North Korea as soon as possible; the joint paper said the relocation of the U.S. military at Putianma Airport in Okinawa Prefecture will be completed as soon as possible.

The Japanese media commented that the U.S. President Joe Biden visited Japan for the first Time since he took office at the ministerial level, and made a rare appearance in the joint statement to criticize China by name, as well as to reaffirm the solidity of the Japan-U.S. alliance and oppose coercion and destabilizing behavior, in an attempt to restrain China’s provocative actions.

Japan’s University of Tokyo professor Yasuhiro Matsuda told the Central News Agency that on the Taiwan Strait issue, both the United States and Japan believe that it is China, not Taiwan, that is trying to change the status quo. He recalled that the Taiwan Strait issue was also mentioned during the U.S.-Japan 2 plus 2 talks in 2005, when Taiwan’s former president Chen Shui-bian, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party, was in power and China exerted pressure on Taiwan; this time the U.S.-Japan 2 plus 2 talks mentioned the Taiwan Strait issue as well, in the same vein, but at that time China’s power was not as strong as it is now, so the sense of crisis is greater now. Matsuda pointed out that China exerted actual military pressure on the Taiwan Strait, which made the U.S. and Japan feel very worried, so this time, the U.S.-Japan 2 plus 2 talks, for the Taiwan Strait issue to speak more clearly; and Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and Foreign Minister Toshichika Mogi are more familiar with Taiwan, especially Nobuo Kishi personally have their own views on the Taiwan issue, more nonchalant to China.

According to Professor Matsuda, the Japanese government is now very worried about China’s movements. From the process of China’s attack on Hong Kong, we can understand that China is really trying to change the status quo, and it is just as nonchalant about the Senkaku Islands (Taiwan’s Diaoyutai Islands). Matsuda stressed that if China wants to change the status quo with Taiwan, and if it wants to change the status quo by non-peaceful means, this is a serious matter, and Japan believes that if it does not respond now, it will miss the opportunity.

Matsuda suggested that Taiwan should first not provoke China, although the U.S. and Japan are alert to the danger of China, but this does not mean that they can fight with China for no reason, the U.S. and Japan support the policy of maintaining the status quo in Taiwan. Secondly, Taiwan should work closely with the U.S. and Japan to link up and act sensibly. Matsuda affirmed that Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is acting sensibly, unlike the DPP government back in 2005.

As for the joint statement of the U.S.-Japan 2 plus 2 talks criticizing China by name, will it make the originally improving Sino-Japanese relations turn sour again? Matsuda said, it is difficult to say, if the U.S.-China Alaska talks almost broke up, China would not dare to be too harsh on Japan alone. Now it is China that has to ask for help from the U.S. and Japan, and senior Chinese officials still have to go to Alaska to meet with senior U.S. officials, because in the era of the Trump administration, China was simply not allowed to enter, and now the Biden Administration is giving China the opportunity. China needs help from the U.S. and Japan. China is facing very serious sanctions on semiconductors and other high technology, and expects the U.S. to let go and talk about other topics later. Matsuda hopes that Japan, South Korea and other U.S. allies can keep up with the changes in the United States, because only the United States is not enough.