Attack from space would trigger collective defense, say US and Japan amid China fears | Japan

The United States and Japan have said an attack in space would trigger their security treaty, as senior officials from both countries have warned that China poses the “greatest strategic challenge” to regional security.

“We agree that [China] is the greatest common strategic challenge facing us, our allies and partners,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday after meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Yoshimasa Hayashi, in Washington.

US and Japanese defense chiefs have agreed that attacks “to, from and within” space could invoke Article Five of their security treaty, which states that an attack on any of the allies is an attack on both.

The United States has also strongly supported Japan’s plans to significantly strengthen its defenses, including the ability to attack enemy bases if it believes an attack is imminent – a move some have criticized as a violation of “pacifist” principles set out in its post-war constitution.

“It’s very simple, we warmly welcome new strategies, especially because there is … a remarkable convergence between our strategy and our strategies and those of Japan,” Blinken said.

The Blinken-Hayashi meeting, which also involved Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, comes weeks after Japan announced its biggest military buildup since World War II. , including plans to acquire the ability to launch “counter-attacks” against enemy bases.

“The ministers agreed that China’s foreign policy seeks to reshape the international order to its advantage and to use China’s growing political, economic, military and technological might to this end,” the four said in a statement. spouse. “This behavior is of serious concern to the alliance and the wider international community.”

Growing concern over Chinese military activity near Taiwan, coupled with a spate of ballistic missile tests by North Korea over the past year, has prompted a further shift from the strictly defensive posture. adopted by Japan after its defeat in 1945.

Under updated strategies announced last month, it hopes to double defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product in fiscal year 2027 – bringing it in line with NATO countries – including the purchase of hundreds of American-made Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Hayashi said Washington and Tokyo shared “a vision of a modernized alliance to gain the position to win in the new era of strategic competition.”

The nations also agreed to create a “more nimble” U.S. marine unit based on the southern island of Okinawa that would be better placed to respond to emergencies around Japan’s southwestern islands near Taiwan.

“I think this is going to make a major contribution to our efforts to help defend Japan and also promote a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Austin said, adding that the unit, formed from an existing regiment reorganized on Okinawa, would be in place by 2025.

Japan is home to 18,000 US Marines – the largest concentration outside the United States – and most are stationed on the main island of Okinawa, which is part of a chain that stretches along the edge of the East China Sea to about 100 km (62 miles) from Taiwan.

China, which claims democratic Taiwan as part of its territory, was condemned last year after conducting exercises that many saw as a test for an invasion of the island.

“I won’t guess Mr. Xi, but what I will tell you is that what we are seeing recently is very provocative behavior by Chinese forces,” Austin said, referring to Chinese leader Xi Jinping. .

“We think they’re trying to establish a new normal, but whether or not that means an invasion is imminent, you know, I seriously doubt that,” he said.

The four-party talks came a day before Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was due to meet Joe Biden to bolster support for Japan’s G7 presidency, whose leaders will meet in Hiroshima in May.

Earlier this week, Kishida and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signed a defense pact that will allow Britain and Japan to deploy forces on each other’s soil, in the latest move towards ties tighter security.

Sunak described the agreement as “hugely significant” for both countries, adding that it “solidifies our commitment to the Indo-Pacific”.

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