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Warning from Japan: 'We are facing a turning point. Strengthen its defense capabilities. Today the announcement of the start of negotiations for Japan's membership in AUKUS vs. China

Amid geopolitical tensions showing no signs of easing, Japan has been forced to reconsider its defense posture, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Sunday. U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are expected to agree to strengthen defense industrial cooperation during the April 10 summit. The cooperation will not be limited to the repair of U.S. ships at Japan's private shipyards, but will also include the co-development and co-production of munitions, aircraft and ships in the future. In any case, Japan is in the midst of developing its own long-range nuclear warheads. Today the United States, Britain and Australia will announce Japan's entry into the AUKUS. The "U.S.-U.K.-Australia Trilateral Security Partnership" (AUKUS) has planned to introduce new members. The defense ministers of the United States, Britain and Australia are expected to issue a statement today announcing the start of negotiations for Japan's membership in AUKUS to address the so-called "Chinese threat" in Asia."

by Nicola and Gabriele Iuvinale

The Japanese prime minister's remarks came ahead of a planned summit with U.S. President Joe Biden next Wednesday. On the same day, Kishida will also address a joint session of Congress and participate in the first tripartite summit between Japan, the United States and the Philippines.

"As we witness Russia's aggression in Ukraine, the current situation in the Middle East, as well as the situation in East Asia, we are facing a historic turning point the Japanese prime minister said in an interview at his private residence in Tokyo. "This is why Japan has decided to radically strengthen its defense capabilities, and we have greatly changed Japan's security policy on these fronts", Kishida added. 

Amid growing security challenges, the prime minister said, the Japan-U.S. understanding is becoming "increasingly important," a prospect he hopes will attract bipartisan support in Washington. According to Washington, the Kishida-Biden summit represents a historic opportunity for the United States and Japan to modernize their alliance as both countries face regional threats, from North Korea's weapons tests and burgeoning relationship with Moscow to Beijing's aggression in the South China Sea and toward Taiwan.

The partnership with Tokyo has long been a key aspect of U.S. strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, but the defense alliance has seen a positive evolution during Kishida's tenure, which has improved Japan's global and regional security posture.

Away from the pacifist past

Since coming to power in 2021, the prime minister has pursued a radical change in Japan's defense posture, abandoning the pacifist status imposed by the United States after World War II to increase defense spending to about 2 percent of GDP by 2027 and equip itself with counterattack capabilities. The initiative was not without controversy, especially in China and other parts of Asia, which suffered greatly from Japanese militarism during World War II. Asked about the change, Kishida stressed the "severe and complex" security environment surrounding his East Asian country, the world's fourth largest economy.

"There are countries in our neighborhood that are developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, and others that are developing their defense capabilities in a way that lacks transparency. There is also a unilateral attempt to change the status quo, by force, in both the East China Sea and South China Sea" he said, referring to Chinese maritime aggression linked to territorial disputes with both the Philippines and Japan.

Strengthening Japan's deterrence and response capability is also "essential" to the alliance with the United States, he said.

Confidential sources say Japan is also in the midst of developing its own long-range nuclear warheads.
"I hope the United States understands this and that we can work together to bring more peace and stability to the region. I think it is important to show the rest of the world that the United States and Japan want to further develop cooperation through my visit" Kishida said.

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