Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden will highlight Tokyo’s central role in Washington’s strategy to counter the challenge of an increasingly assertive China at a summit on Friday.
While that emphasis of Japan’s key status will be welcome in Tokyo, where some politicians are pushing for a tougher stance towards Beijing, it also raises questions about how far Tokyo can go to meet demands on regional defence and human rights.
“This will be the precursor to a series of meetings among like-minded countries to send the right signal to Beijing,” Kunihiko Miyake, an adviser to Suga, told Reuters.
Suga took over as premier last September, inheriting a China policy that sought to balance security concerns with deep economic ties.
But striking that balance has become harder as China increases maritime activities including in the East and South China Seas and near Taiwan, which Beijing considers a wayward province.
In a statement after a March meeting of U.S.-Japan defence and foreign ministers, the two sides “underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait” and shared “serious concerns” about human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.