After arriving in the U.S. for a week-long visit, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Obama held a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden where the two leaders addressed both regional and global challenges, the contemporary role Japan will fulfill to blunt the rebellious natures of China and North Korea on the Pacific Rim, the future of the now-stalled Trans-Pacific Partnership and the immediate concern over conflicting claims Pacific Rim nations have over the Shenkaku Islands.
During the Rose Garden meeting with the press, President Obama accentuated Mr. Abe’s visit to the United States not as a slight to Red China, but as a signal of the strength of the relationship between the two nations and to celebrate the economic and military bond the two nations have basked in for seventy years.
While Mr. Obama assailed China for “flexing muscle” on its missionary and intrusive territorial claims in the region, he also took the opportunity to bolster the Japanese-American union when he stated:
“I want to reiterate that our treaty commitment to Japan’s security is absolute.”
This Rose Garden announcement of Japan’s expanded military role, one which Japan welcomes with enthusiasm and is greeted with American support, will be unwelcome news in Beijing and Pyongyang.
Japan’s developing role in the Pacific Rim should not be seen as a shift in values, but a shift in responsibility without an abandonment of the cooperation Japan and the United States enjoy. A high-water mark in the White House discussions is likely to center on how Japan can assume a larger role in maintaining harmony in the Pacific Rim.
Since 2013, Abe has labored to increase the size and scope of Japan’s military in a furious effort to counter China’s aggressive behavior, particularly the expansion of the Chinese navy.
On Wednesday, Abe will become to first Japanese prime minister to address a joint session of Congress.
[BBC] [International Business Times] [Reuters] [The Guardian] [Photo courtesy Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images]