U.S. lawmakers confirm that the Japanese alliance is looking at China and North Korea
U.S. lawmakers confirm that the Japanese alliance is looking at China and North Korea

U.S. lawmakers confirm that the Japanese alliance is looking at China and North Korea

TOKYO (AP) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and visiting U.S. lawmakers on Saturday reaffirmed their commitment to work together under a long-standing bilateral alliance, amid rising global tensions spanning the war in Ukraine to threats from neighboring China and North Korea.

At a breakfast meeting, the delegation, led by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, agreed with Kishida on the importance of maintaining a “free and open Indo-Pacific region,” according to the State Department.

The six legislators’ visit follows their previous stop in Taiwan, where they made a sharp and public statement of their support for the autonomous island democracy while issuing a warning to China. They met with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, on Friday.

China conducted military exercises near Taiwan in protest of the delegation’s visit. Spokesman Zhao Lijian said China was ready to “take strong action to resolutely secure its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Japan has long been nervous about China’s stance on Taiwan, but such views, especially among conservative politicians seeking a more confident military, have risen since the war in Ukraine. The issue is sensitive because Japan’s pacifist constitution, adopted after its defeat in World War II, bans the use of force in international conflicts. Japan holds its overseas military operations for peacekeeping and humanitarian relief.

Japan does not officially recognize Taiwan, but it does maintain friendly relations. The question of whether the United States would intervene in the event of a military invasion of Taiwan from China remains open. Analysts say Japan’s role in such a hypothetical situation is even more unclear because Japan houses a huge US military presence under the alliance.

Kishida told the representatives of the Congress that the bilateral alliance replaced political party divisions and sought their understanding of Japan’s role in the work towards peace and prosperity in the region. Tokyo also called for US support for Japan’s ongoing efforts to bring home Japanese who were abducted by North Korea decades ago, the ministry said. North Korea returned some of the abducted people in 2004.

China opposes any official exchange between the Taiwanese government and other foreign governments because it claims that Taiwan is part of its national territory and not an independent country. China and Taiwan split after a civil war in 1949.

The U.S. delegation also includes Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Rep. Ronny Jackson from Texas.


Associated Press Writer Huizhong Wu of Taipei, Taiwan contributed to this report.

Wu is on Twitter https://twitter.com/huizhong_wu

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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