US to ‘deepen’ engagement in Indo-Pacific – VP Harris

Joe Biden’s Second Commander meets with Asia-Pacific leaders during a stop in Tokyo, to discuss countering threats in the region

US Vice President Kamala Harris reaffirms Washington “Commit failed” to Japan’s defense on her first official visit to the country on Monday. She met the Japanese prime minister in Tokyo to discuss Beijing “Provocative” in the Taiwan Strait.

Harris is leading a US delegation to the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in July. Before the ceremony, the US second-level official met Mr. Abe’s successor, Fumio Kishida. They discussed “Recent China’s aggressive and irresponsible provocations in the Taiwan Strait” and condemns North Korea’s recent ballistic missile test, a news release released by the White House said.

On Tuesday, she also met with South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who are representing their governments at the funeral. Seoul and Canberra are among Washington’s important partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

Before flying to Tokyo, Harris promised to use her trip to “Reaffirming our commitments to our Allies and continuing to engage more deeply” in the area.

Taiwan became the focal point of US-China relations in early August, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited China’s self-governing island in the face of Beijing’s warnings. The Chinese government accuses Washington of challenging its sovereignty over Taiwan by promoting separatism in the local government.

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Harris describes the US-Japan alliance as “The foundation of what we believe is integral to peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region” during the public portion of the meeting at Akasaka Palace, Tokyo.

The US has kept tens of thousands of troops in Japan since it occupied the country during World War II. Abe, who served as prime minister from 2006-2007 and again from 2012-2020, was a key figure in pushing Japan away from its postwar pacifist stance and rebuilding its military. He was assassinated on July 8 during an election campaign on behalf of his conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which has dominated Japanese politics since 1955.

Prime Minister Kishida has doubled down on Abe’s military policy and is now seeking a record defense budget of nearly $40 billion for fiscal year 2023, potentially making Japan the second-highest military spender. three in the world after the US and China.

According to local media, Tokyo plans to spend the budget to stockpile about 1,000 more long-range missiles and would otherwise strengthen its forces under an upcoming update of its national military strategy.

READ MORE: Seoul reluctantly gets dragged into the Taiwan conflict

Vice President Harris will travel from Japan to South Korea, where she is expected to visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border with North Korea. The last senior US official to visit the DMZ was Pelosi, who went there last month, shortly after her controversial trip to Taiwan.

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