US and Japan Expand Defense Agreement to Include Space: Global Impact

On Wednesday (01.11.2023), the United States and Japan announced that their security and defence treaty applies to space, in response to China’s increasingly security-intensive moves. This comes weeks after Japan approved a review for a substantial rise in defence spending over the next five years.

Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister, toured the seven industrial democracies and declared the country’s presidency this year as he visited Washington. The two countries warned that “attacks into, from or within space present a clear challenge to the security of the alliance”, and this has invoked Article Five of the defence treaty to bring them both closer.

In accordance with this, the US Pentagon has announced that they will deploy a mobile and more agile unit of Marines on Okinawa, the Island of southern Japan, to ramp up the country’s defence. It is believed this force will be operation by 2025, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has declared it will be “more lethal and more mobile”.

The presence of the marines is a strategic decision made to counter the advancements of China, which the head of the Pentagon accuses of “very provocative behaviour”. He also declared that China is the prime strategic challenge to the United States, Japan, allied and partners alike.

This agreement serves as a turning point for Japan, as the pacifist constitution ruling the country prohibits it from having a full-fledged army. It is clear that Japan has slowly shifted its calculation regarding its military standing, with the joint statement seemingly encompassing their efforts to “modernize the alliance and position themselves to win in the new era of strategic competition”.

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