The partial lifting of U.S. metals tariffs slapped on Japan under former U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is the latest bid by U.S. President Joe Biden’s government to mend ties with a major ally and counterbalance an increasingly powerful China.

Biden inherited a global network of alliances that had been battered by Trump’s repeated questioning of their value to the United States, even as many saw such ties as increasingly important, given China’s growing wealth and military might.

"First, you treat allies as allies,” U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said in a phone interview Tuesday. "Second, you begin to make a down payment on both climate and standing up for a rules-based system by recognizing nonmarket forces like China have wreaked havoc.”