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Over four days last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin participated in two bilateral “two-plus-two” (foreign and defense ministerial) meetings in Japan and South Korea. Blinken noted the significance of the Tokyo trip as it was “the first Cabinet-level, in-person, overseas travel of the Biden-Harris administration.”

Alas, it was a truly historic event for those of us who worked on the alliance in Japan. People like me used to have an obsession with two-plus-twos but now feel like we are living in a different age. Back in the 1990s, Tokyo was never considered a first destination for overseas travel by new U.S. secretaries under new administrations.

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