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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 April 17 - 23  > 'Threat' recognized in Japan-US '2+2' talks shifts to China and Russia from DPRK
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2019 April 17 - 23 [POLITICS]

'Threat' recognized in Japan-US '2+2' talks shifts to China and Russia from DPRK

April 21, 2019

A change was seen in regard to "threats", the precondition for reinforcing the Japan-U.S. military alliance, recognized by Japan-U.S. defense and foreign ministers during their talks on April 19.

In the previous joint statement released following a 2-plus-2 meeting in August 2018 when North Korea's nuclear development and ballistic missile launches were being international concern, the four ministers recognized North Korea as a threat to regional and world peace and stability. The statement at that time emphasized that "pressure" should be continued to apply on the DPRK.

In contrast, the joint statement of the latest 2-plus-2 meeting avoided naming North Korea as a threat and welcomed the "U.S. diplomatic efforts" such as the Washington-Pyongyang Summits aimed at achieving the "final, fully verified denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula". Regarding the pressure, the statement only referred to Japan-U.S. commitment to lead international efforts in implementation of UN Security Council resolutions.

The change in the recognition of threats by the bilateral ministers indicates that the conventional definition that North Korea is a threat can no longer be an excuse for reinforcing the Japan-U.S. military alliance and promoting arms expansion.

Meanwhile, the latest statement highlighted cooperation in "cross-domain operations", including new domains such as space, cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum, as "core objectives" to advance the strong Japan-U.S. defense relationship, apparently with an eye on the rise of China and Russia in these new domains.

On cyber issues, in particular, the statement noted that "malicious cyber activity presents an increasing threat" to the security of both Japan and the United States. The statement stipulated for the first time that a cyberattack on Japan would constitute an "armed attack" under Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

However, Akahata said, to recognize something as an armed attack is not easy in cyberspace because the attack must be identified as being conducted by a state or an actor equivalent to a state. The Japanese government has the responsibility of explaining to the public the details concerning this point.

Past related articles:
> JCP Koike comments on Abe government’s new defense program [December 19, 2018]
> 2.5 trillion yen in arms-related debts will be rolled over to future [September 1, 2018]
> 2018 defense report excessively stresses N. Korea's 'threat' [August 29, 2018]
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