Biden Reasers Japan, South Korea Over Alliance Commitment


Yoshihida Suga

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg

US President-Elect Joe Biden assured the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Thursday morning of their commitment to forging alliances with the two Asian countries, hinting that they would follow a different strategy from Donald Trump.

Biden told Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihida Suga that the security pact between the two countries also covered the East China Sea islands that China claimed. In a separate call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Biden confirmed his commitment to defending South Korea and resolving North Korea’s nuclear issues simultaneously, calling the country a “linchpin” for regional security.

Both Tokyo and Seoul are in talks with the US about so-called “host-nation support” that they pay for tens of thousands of American troops depending on their territory. Trump has pressed both allies for far more funding, using the threat of military military reductions as a lever. Biden said in an article that he contributed to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency last month that he would not “extort” Seoul.

Last month, the US upheld its commitment to maintain the military’s status in South Korea after the first defense chiefs’ meeting, as both sides were adamant about funding demands.

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Suga told reporters that Biden assured them of their safety treaty and said they agreed to meet as soon as possible and work together on a range of issues, including coronoviruses. He said he told Biden that he wanted to strengthen the alliance and cooperate in the security of the Indo-Pacific region.

Common danger

Each time the US chooses a new leader, Japan wants to reintroduce the scope of the 1960 security treaty. Five Articles of the Treaty “Work to meet the common threat ”in the event of an armed attack on any party in the territory administered by Japan. The US considers the disputed islands to be administered by Japan, rather than being part of the country.

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Chinese and Japanese government ships constantly chase each other around the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

“The Daeoyu and its allied islands are areas of China,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a daily briefing in Beijing on Thursday. “The US-Japan Security Treaty is a product of the Cold War. It should not undermine the interests of any third party or regional peace and stability.

Like other leaders of major democracies, Suga and Moon went ahead with the call despite the fact that Trump continues to dispute the results of the election. Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, was the first leader of a major country to meet Trump after the 2016 election, before being inaugurated for New York for talks.

After World War II, Japan adopted a pacifist constitution that only allowed for defensive weapons. The country is dependent on the US for a nuclear deterrent against regional adversities, including China and North Korea.

– With assistance from EM Nobuhiro, Jeong-ho Lee and James Megger

(Updates with Chinese government comment in eighth paragraph.)

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