U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made their debut on the global stage Tuesday in talks with their Japanese counterparts in Tokyo that singled out China for the first time over its behavior, write Jesse Johnson and Satoshi Sugiyama.

The allies said that China’s growing assertiveness in the region “presents political, economic, military, and technological challenges to the alliance and to the international community,” while voicing a commitment to “opposing coercion and destabilizing behavior toward others in the region.”

On Friday, leaders of the “Quad,” which also includes India and Australia, released a statement that did not mention China, although it said the four nations had “a shared vision for the free and open Indo-Pacific.” After the first such meeting on U.S. President Joe Biden’s watch, it’s too early to say whether the group will become a key piece of the regional security architecture.

U.S. and Japan decry China’s ‘coercion and destabilising behaviour’ | AL JAZEERA ENGLISH
U.S. and Japan decry China’s ‘coercion and destabilising behaviour’ | AL JAZEERA ENGLISH

Last month, China enacted a law to allow its coast guard to use arms against vessels intruding in waters it claims. Beijing insists that new capabilities are needed to protect national territory and interests, but from any other perspective, the changes look like intimidation, writes the JT Editorial Board.

Could Japan theoretically shoot back? The government in Tokyo recently claimed that it could under a reinterpretation of the Japan Coast Guard law, although as commentator Kuni Miyake argues, things aren’t that clear cut.

While we’re on the subject: T5 reader and past JT contributor Brian Victoria has pointed out that a video linked in the Feb. 19 edition of T5 stated that Japan took control of the Senkakus “just before beginning its military expansion.” In fact, he says, Japan did so in the closing stages of the First Sino–Japanese War, very much during said expansion. T5 is not responsible for the content of the videos, but we’re happy to set the record straight.