Visiting Japan, High U.S. Envoys Set Combative Tone for China Talks

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Now, with the Biden administration in place and with China rising more and more assertive, Japan appears extra keen to hitch with the US in its unequivocal criticism of China’s actions.

Mr. Kishi, the protection minister, mentioned that Japan might “completely not settle for” China’s actions to extend tensions within the East and South China Seas, and indicated they have been violating worldwide legal guidelines.

But the Japanese overseas minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, was much less overt in criticizing China.

Whereas Mr. Blinken explicitly singled out China — and Myanmar, the place the army staged a coup final month — for threatening “democracy, human rights and rule of legislation,” Mr. Motegi averted mentioning China immediately. He mentioned that he welcomed the alliance for its function in defending “peace and prosperity within the Indo-Pacific.”

Analysts mentioned Japan could mood its language as a result of it has extra to lose from confrontation with China.

“One large distinction is their financial relationships with China,” mentioned Narushige Michishita, vice chairman of the Nationwide Graduate Institute for Coverage Research in Tokyo. “Whereas the U.S. can dwell with out China, Japan can not. They need to discover a widespread floor there.”

The high-level go to from Washington sought, partially, to remind Japan that it shares a lot widespread floor with the US. That it was the primary official journey abroad for each Mr. Blinken and Mr. Austin since taking workplace was repeated a number of occasions on Tuesday to guarantee Japan of its worth to the Biden administration.

The alliance with Japan by no means suffered as a lot injury beneath the Trump administration as U.S. partnerships in Europe. Mr. Abe maintained a detailed relationship with Mr. Trump and hosted him for 2 visits to Japan. Final October, when then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the 2 exchanged a fist bump that lasted 15 seconds.

On Tuesday, when Mr. Suga met with Mr. Austin and Mr. Blinken at his official residence, all of them bowed — as is the customized in Japan.

Makiko Inoue contributed reporting from Toyko, and Steven Lee Myers from Seoul.