In a joint statement Thursday, PM Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden hailed relief efforts by Japanese and American troops after the 3/11 disasters as a sign of the “special bond” between their countries.

Ahead of the 10th anniversary, John Roos, U.S. ambassador to Japan at the time, called Operation Tomodachi “a shining example of the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance.” At the peak of the cooperation, the U.S. had 24,000 personnel, 190 aircraft, and 24 Navy ships supporting relief efforts.

It’s difficult to overemphasize just how important the triple disaster was in evolving the alliance, argues Michael MacArthur Bosack. The strongest military partnerships tend to be tempered on the battlefield, but the Japan-U.S. alliance had no such test — until March 11, 2011.

Biden to meet leaders of Japan, India and Australia | REUTERS
Biden to meet leaders of Japan, India and Australia | REUTERS

The two governments are hoping to arrange facetime between Suga and Biden in Washington as early as April, Japan government sources said Monday. But before then, both will meet virtually at the first summit on Biden’s watch of the “Quad” leaders Friday, along with the Indian and Australian PMs.

The meeting is shaping up to be a crucial moment for Biden to crystallize his administration’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region in the face of China’s growing assertiveness, writes Satoshi Sugiyama.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will then visit Japan for three days from Monday, with a two-plus-two meeting between the U.S. officials and their counterparts in Tokyo expected to focus on China and the North Korean nuclear missile program.