United States affirms cooperation with Japan, Philippines in Tokyo
by A.L. Lee
Washington DC (UPI) Jun 16, 2023
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met Friday with two Asian counterparts in Tokyo, where the United States, Japan, and the Philippines agreed to expand military cooperation in the region in response to increased Chinese aggression and the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.
Japan’s National Security Advisor Akiba Takeo, and Philippines National Security Advisor Eduardo Año joined Sullivan to address a wide range of growing security challenges, including how to deal with nations that impose sanctions in order to influence government policy worldwide, according to a readout provided by the White House.
The leaders also agreed to work more closely on economic security efforts, and to boost their cooperation on humanitarian and disaster relief efforts around the world.
Sullivan used the meeting to assure the allies that the U.S. remained committed to its regional partners amid increasing volatility in the South China Sea as Beijing was making increasingly aggressive claims to Taiwan, which has strained relations with Washington in recent months.
The leaders also discussed ways to improve security during visits by U.S. defense and military officials, while agreeing to expand joint naval exercises and other maritime operations to promote peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific.
The meeting was mainly intended to build on several recent cooperation pacts, including a strategic agreement signed earlier this year that will boost the U.S. military presence in the Philippines with four new naval installations along the southern end of the South China Sea.
The sit-down followed a recent summit where the three leaders discussed how to deter China, which recently warned of the “changing circumstances in the Indo-Pacific” while suggesting the safety of nearly 200,000 Filipinos living in Taiwan was at risk.
In early May, President Joe Biden sat down with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the White House to reaffirm U.S. defense commitments in Southeast Asia and to discuss ways to resurrect an alliance that turned stale after the Vietnam War.
The U.S. has also sought to shore up relations with other regional partners, including Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida who signed a new security agreement with Biden in January; and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, whose meeting with Biden in late April resulted in an agreement to dock U.S. nuclear-armed submarines in South Korea for the first time in more than 40 years.
Meanwhile, the Philippines was also engaging actively with Japan and other countries in the region after a series of Chinese provocations, including encroachment into Philippines’ territorial waters in April.
Later the same month, the U.S. and Philippines conducted the largest-ever joint military exercise between the two nations, while coast guards from the U.S., Japan and Philippines held combined drills in early June.