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US-Japan Cooperation Is Critical For Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region: Washington

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reaffirmed on Tuesday their commitment to cooperation with Japan, which they believe is crucial for a free and open Indo-Pacific Region, and also stressed that the bond between the countries is based on shared values.

At the 2+2 meeting with Japan’s ministers for foreign affairs and defense, Blinken expressed gratitude for their “extraordinary hospitality” and also stressed that he and Austin were the first members of US President Joe Biden’s cabinet to make an overseas trip.

“For that trip, we come to Japan, because for over 60 years our alliance has been a cornerstone of peace, security and prosperity not only for our two countries but for the region and indeed for the world. We are here to reaffirm our commitment to this alliance … to ensure that we keep delivering for our people today and for the future,” Blinken said.

The secretary of state stressed that the bilateral alliance was critical “for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which countries pursue shared objectives effectively, resolve any differences peacefully, respect international law and use multilateral institutions to build cooperation.”

Blinken also expressed the belief that the alliance is more than just a security agreement, but a “bond of friendship, trust and respect” that is based on shared democratic values.

“We are proud to be your friend then, now and in the years to come,” Blinken concluded.

Austin, in turn, stressed that the US seeks to “build upon the resolute and resilient bond between our two countries.”

“The US-Japan alliance is strong, and I look forward to joining the path toward continued success in the future, as we work together to uphold free and open Indo-Pacific … We are the strongest when we work together as part of a larger team, and that is why we stand shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm with Japan,” Austin added.

The high-ranking official noted that the US Department of Defense stands “ready to buttress the hard work of diplomats.”

Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi pointed to the need to “cement peace, stability and prosperity as strategic goals of Japan and the US” in light of the “change in power balance.”

“The environment has entered a completely different dimension … and the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling the trend,” Motegi noted.

Japans’s defense minister, Nobuo Kishi, noted that the bilateral partnership, which has been steadily developing in the past 10 years, should now be made even stronger, as the “security environment is becoming increasingly severe.”

“In difficult times, the US stood by us and gave us support. This is deeply engraved in the minds of our citizens,” Kishi added.

The defense minister invited the US officials to discuss “specific approaches to take in order to enhance our deterrence and defense capabilities of our alliance.”

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