‘Two Plus Two’ Talks: Using the US-Japan Alliance as a Lever for Regional Stability


Defense and foreign ministers from the U.S. and Japan have held a “two plus two” meeting for the first time since the start of the Joe Biden administration. The meeting took place in Tokyo, and was concerned primarily with the topic of responding to the emergence of China.

Both sides shared serious concerns about the repeated invasions into the territorial waters of Okinawa Prefecture and the Senkaku Islands, as well as the Chinese Coast Guard Law, which regulates the authority of Chinese public vessels.

In a joint statement, the two sides explicitly named China and criticized its actions, saying, “The United States and Japan remain opposed to any unilateral action that seeks to change the status quo or to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.”

It seems that the two sides emphasized defensive cooperation in the new fields of space and cyber with China in mind.

They made clear their strong stance to cooperate and respond to China challenging the rules-based system of international order.

The Biden administration chose Japan as the destination for its key security cabinet members’ first foreign visit. This is an indication that the American government attaches a great deal of importance to the U.S.-Japan alliance.

The preparations were meticulous. In addition to the meeting, the State Department issued a fact sheet titled, “Reaffirming the Unbreakable U.S.-Japan Alliance,” extolling the strength of the relationship between the U.S. and Japan.

The U.S. administration considers China to be its sole competitor. Prior to the two plus two meeting, the first four-way summit between Japan, Australia, India and the U.S. was held online last week.

America’s emphasis on Asia and alliances is welcome. However, the reality is that it will be difficult for the U.S. to confront China alone.

It is said that China will be on a par with the U.S. economically and militarily within the next few decades. Building a network to counter this growth will dominate the future of the United States.

It is also of course important for Japan to deal with current and pressing issues, but there should also be a focus on its long-term relationship with China. What is important is how to balance cooperation with the U.S. on issues of national security and cooperation with China on economic issues.

Will the U.S. and Japan be able to curtail China’s intrusive behavior? Ultimately, the more the unified an alliance is, the more effective it will be.

By treating China as an enemy and taking retaliatory measures, there will only be less room for cooperation. The U.S.-Japan alliance must not be used as a tool in the race for supremacy with China.

Japan’s national interest is linked to the prosperity and stability of the neighboring region. It is therefore essential to engage in strategic dialogue with China to establish our common interests.

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About D Baker 31 Articles
Japanese to English translator and account manager of @grammargopher, which provides bitesize grammar lessons for English and Japanese language learners.

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