The visit of the Japanese prime minister underlines a core component of Biden’s foreign strategy.

In a private meeting in Tokyo last year, President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Biden conveyed a message that was both calculated and sincere.

Although the US was aware of Japan’s desire to adopt a more assertive defense and security posture, Biden made it plain that everything he could do to support or shield such an effort should be put on the table.

The outcome of the one-on-one meeting was characterized by another eight months later. This time, the Oval Office served as the background.

As he sat next to Kishida in front of the cameras, Biden stated, “Let me be quite clear. The alliance has the full, unwavering support of the United States.

Kishida’s visit represents for Biden and his national security staff the fulfillment and continuation of a fundamental initiative pursued since the first days of the administration. At a time when geopolitical dangers and tensions have collided with a strategy to change the security posture of allies in Europe and the Indo-Pacific, it is one that goes beyond a single bilateral relationship.

While also being more transparent about its territorial aspirations, China has swiftly increased its military capabilities. The biggest armed confrontation in Europe since World War II began as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. All the meantime, North Korea has stepped up its missile tests and other provocative behavior.



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HIGHSHOT – On January 13, 2023, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida enter the White House’s colonnade on their approach to the Oval Office.
Inside After five days, the White House has vowed to carry on with business as usual.
A geopolitical environment that is trending toward instability has given Biden the chance to assist allies in enhancing their security and defense capabilities. National security adviser Jake Sullivan described this opportunity as a modernization of a key idea from President Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy.

In a CNN interview, Sullivan stated that “peace through American power” was Reagan’s philosophy. “Peace through the strength of America and our allies,” says Biden.

The foundational effort has yielded noticeable, if occasionally inconsistent, advancements with Germany, Australia, and, most obviously, Japan as the administration enters its third year.

In response to mounting threats from regional rivals, especially China, Kishida released a new national security strategy in December that indicates the country’s largest military buildup since World War II, boosting defense budget and departing from its pacifist constitution.

The choice signaled a significant shift for the country as well as the US security coalition in the Indo-Pacific region.

A senior administration source told CNN, “We believed that we could get significant movement, but I don’t think that anybody thought it would be this far, this fast.”

It also happened at a time when Kishida was dealing with domestic political difficulties that Biden was more than prepared to try to solve.

According to senior administration sources, Kishida’s visit provided a glimpse inside the two years of meticulous planning by Biden’s team, which helped to establish the conditions for dramatic changes to strengthen US relationships at a time when tensions were rising.

Before Putin crossed the Ukrainian border, we started laying the groundwork for all of this, Sullivan told CNN. This has, above all, been a top diplomatic priority.

At the outset of the presidency, Biden issued the order, and Sullivan served as its primary architect. As officials pressed their colleagues to expedite expenditure and revisions to their own security and defense spending programs, the administration worked to strengthen existing relationships, both bilaterally and regionally.

With a clear statement of support, political cover, or, in the case of Kishida, a sought-after White House meeting, they would make sure that it was understood that the US would be there to help in any process undertaken, whether through improvements to defense capabilities, changes in US force posture, or Biden himself.

Security policies have changed in ways that may have previously unnerved allies worried about rising regional tensions or upset enemies eager to match action with escalation. This is because geopolitical events have coincided with that approach.

However, the strategy has been able to circumvent a recent readiness to question earlier regional risk assessments. Allies haven’t overlooked that, according to Sullivan.

According to Sullivan, “We’re providing them the assurance that as they go out on a limb, we are not going to cut off that limb.”

CH-46 helicopters are seen taking off at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Futenma, located in Okinawa, Japan, in this photo from August 16, 2012. The long-awaited relocation of the American military installation received the approval of Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima on Friday, December 27, 2013, which was a significant step toward enabling the US to proceed with its plans to consolidate its soldiers in Okinawa and relocate some to Guam. Nakaima granted permission for the Japanese Defense Ministry to recover land along the shore of Okinawa for a new military facility. It would take the place of the American Marine Corps base now located in Futenma, a busier area of Okinawa’s main island. Greg Baker/AP Photo
In an effort to discourage China, the US and Japan deepen their military ties with an improved Marine battalion.
Before Kishida’s visit, the US and Japan announced a significant improvement in their military ties and a repositioning of US forces in the area, including the stationing of a newly redesigned Marine unit with cutting-edge intelligence, surveillance, and anti-ship missile capabilities.

According to one official, it is one of the biggest changes to the US military’s posture in the area in recent years, highlighting the Pentagon’s intention to move away from the Middle East of the past to the Indo-Pacific of the present.

Additionally, it conveyed a strong message about how long the US would continue to support Japan’s strategic pivot, which administration officials made clear would be a crucial part of their long-term regional policy.

In terms of the long-term effects, the source added, “This is a big gain in net security capability in an area that (is) geographically important.”

Maintaining and strengthening the long-standing crucial partnership with Japan was a priority issue from the beginning for a president and an administration that was utterly fixated on China. Yoshihide Suga, Kishida’s predecessor, was invited by Biden to attend the first state visit of his administration.

The US, Japan, India, and Australia’s informal alliance, known as the Quad, was decided to be promoted to the leader level. Japan was consulted by the US over its Indo-Pacific policy. According to sources, administration officials have searched for potential areas of collaboration across economic and technological sectors.

However, if China’s activities had begun the gradual change in Japan’s general posture, Russia’s actions sped it up to a new level.

Japan has been a dependable partner in the US effort to gather allies in opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Kishida has been clear about how he feels about Russia’s conduct in the Indo-Pacific as well as in relation to Europe.

In a keynote speech in Singapore in June, Kishida provided broad contours of the security strategy shift he was considering, saying, “I myself have a tremendous sense of urgency because Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow.”

By the time Kishida met Biden in November in Cambodia, he had already given the US president the specifics in a previous one-on-one conversation.

He also stated during their private meeting in Tokyo that he would accept Biden’s offer. The idea would need an immediate statement of support from the Biden administration.

Biden concurred, and shortly after Kishida made his plans public, Sullivan issued a formal statement describing it as a “bold and historic gesture.”

Soon after the announcement on December 16 Kishida also asked for a White House invitation.

The White House made public announcements about Kishida’s visit on January 3.

Less than two weeks later, Kishida arrived in a black SUV while Biden was waiting outside the White House.

Soon after, as the two sat side by side in the Oval Office, Biden stated, “I don’t think there has ever been a time when we have been closer to Japan in the United States.



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