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Japan raises the alarm ahead of Biden-Xi Summit

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow (Image courtesy: Twitter/@JPN_PMO)

Strongly opposing "China's unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force" in the East and South China Seas, Quad partners Japan and the United States today agreed to closely coordinate in addressing various issues related to Beijing.

The 30-minute discussion over phone between new Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday morning comes just two days before US President Joe Biden holds a virtual summit with President Xi Jinping of China on Monday.

Tokyo believes that as the security environment in the region is becoming "increasingly severe and uncertain", the Japan-US Alliance, along with quadrilateral cooperation also involving India and Australia, is more important than ever.

Both Yoshimasa and Blinken today decided to work closely with other allies and partners to advance the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. Blinken also reaffirmed Washington's "unwavering commitment" to the defence of Japan, including the application of Article V of the Japan-US Security Treaty to the Senkaku Islands.

Also Read: Following Shinzo Abe's footsteps, Japan's new PM Fumio Kishida will be another 'friend of India for life'

"The two ministers concurred to advance the strengthening of the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-US Alliance as a matter of strongest priority, and to coordinate toward holding a 2+2 meeting at the earliest possible opportunity," the Japanese foreign ministry said in a statement today.  

Japan's big worry

With the region experiencing drastic shifts in the regional power balance, the new Japanese government led by Fumio Kishida has in the last few days intensified efforts towards the promotion of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).  

Besides stating the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, Kishida has raised serious concerns and strongly opposed China's continued activities in East and South China Sea which he said violated Japan's sovereignty.

As intrusions by China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels into Japan's territorial sea around the Senkaku Islands increased, Japan has strategically promoted efforts to realize FOIP based on the rule of law, in cooperation with like-minded counties.

Tokyo says that this vision is now shared by the US, Australia, India, ASEAN and major countries in Europe, and is gaining broad support in the international community.

"Japan will seize opportunities for various bilateral and multilateral dialogues, including the Japan-India-Australia-US dialogue, to expand the cooperation to more countries," says the Japanese foreign ministry.

The Yoshimasa-Blinken call today sets the stage for a happening Biden-Xi summit as Beijing's claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea have already been termed "completely unlawful" – along with its "campaign of bullying to control them" – by the US.

Also Read: India and Vietnam agree to make ASEAN stronger and more integrated