US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are expected to meet virtually with their Japanese counterparts today.
Today’s “two-plus-two” talks will focus on improving bilateral defense ties. Specifically, Washington and Tokyo are expected to modify their arrangement on funding the cost of US forces stationed in Japan. The amendment will increase Japan’s contribution to the total cost by about 5%, or an increase of $9.2 billion.
Japan’s willingness to foot a greater share of the cost of US forces and its recent decision to sign a historic defense treaty with Australia reflect greater concern for the threat posed by China.
In the short-term, expect the amended funding agreement to improve bilateral defense ties between the US and Japan, building Japanese confidence in its ally. In the medium-term, should China’s regional military activity grow more belligerent, there is a possibility that the US may ask Japan to contribute even more to funding US troops. With Japan’s constitution forbidding it from establishing an offensive military, it has no choice but to rely on its allies; however, the US also has interest in being lenient with funding given the greater goal of efficiently defending Japan from attack.
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Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.