US, Japan modernising military alliance: Austin

According to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the US and Japan are striving to modernize their military partnership in the face of threats from China, North Korea, and Russia.

Austin is on a quick trip to Tokyo for bilateral talks before flying to Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue defense forum.

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Austin said the alliance faced “common challenges from the PRC’s (China’s) coercive behavior, North Korea’s dangerous provocations, and Russia’s cruel war of choice in Ukraine” before discussions with his Japanese colleague.

“But we are united by our shared interests and shared values. And we are taking important steps to modernise our alliances and strengthen our deterrence,” he added.

Austin mentioned increased “pace, scope, and scale” of exercises and training as well as trilateral cooperation with Australia and South Korea.

He went on to say that US and Japanese forces are becoming “more versatile, resilient, and mobile,” and he praised Tokyo for choosing to acquire counterstrike capability and enhance information-sharing with Washington.

On Wednesday, Austin landed in Japan just hours after North Korea made an unsuccessful effort to launch a spy satellite using equipment that was prohibited by UN resolutions.

In the past year, Pyongyang has increased its missile launches, and Tokyo is also dealing with increasing pressure from Chinese ships near islands that Beijing and Tokyo are fighting over.

Tokyo presented a significant defense revamp last year, aiming to increase security spending to two percent of GDP by 2027 and referring to China as the “greatest strategic challenge ever” for Japan.

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