In what seems to be a clear focus on core strengths, the US and Japan will be building even deeper ties, mainly on their approach of North Korea, cyber security and all things to do with outer space.
Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya and acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan agreed Wednesday to cooperate in new areas and domains of warfare and cyber in a veiled response to China and its move to dominate military, especially electric warfare and its Navy in the region. Japan for its part will be a naval power now and in two years, but China has been hard at work, now building a new aircraft carrier to project power in the region.
The US and Japan will continue to work for a stronger relationship with North Korea, allowing Japan more access to talks, if not direct, from a distance. Japan has not had a full seat at the table with North Korea and this seems to be a point the US wants to rectify.
The timing of these talks came just one month after Prime Minister Abe and his Cabinet presented a new 10-year defense policy plan that covers a wide range of areas and has a 5-year military build up component that deepens the ties of the US and Japan as this alliance only grows in the face of an assertive China.
Acting US Defense Secretary said, “acknowledged the keyhole Japan’s new National Defense Program Guidelines and Mid-Term Defense Program will play in strengthening the alliance,” a comment right from the Pentagon. Japan and the US will be working closely with Australia and South Korea on a future framework that will in come cases, include India.
In a speech in Washington, Iwaya also pushed for deeper coordination in the cyberspace domain with the US Cyber Command as he pointed out that Japan would set up a cyber command structure in 2023.
President Trump has set up a new Space Command to put China and Russia in check, again, the US and Japan are coordinating in this new domain as well. More on this topic in the coming weeks and months.