PBC NEWS DESK: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Saturday he told Western powers that East Asia could be the next Ukraine, as he urged a united front on a rising China and bellicose North Korea.
Kicking off Japan’s year as head of the Group of Seven, Kishida visited leaders of all members of the elite club except Germany, where he plans to go soon following a scheduling conflict.
Closing his trip in Washington, Kishida said he shared with G7 leaders his “strong sense of crisis regarding the security environment in East Asia.””
Ukraine may be the East Asia of tomorrow,” Kishida told a news conference a day after meeting President Joe Biden, calling security concerns in the two regions “inseparable.””
The situation around Japan is becoming increasingly severe with attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the East China Sea and South China Sea and the activation of North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities,” he said.
Kishida was referring to China’s growing assertiveness in surrounding waters where Beijing has a slew of island disputes including with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam.
China in August also fired missiles into waters that lie in Japan’s economic zone as part of major military exercises around Taiwan, a self-governing democracy that Beijing considers part of its territory and has not ruled out taking by force.
Kishida came to Washington after his government announced that Japan would double defense spending over the next five years, a sea change for a country that has been officially pacifist since its defeat in World War II.
Kishida said he would work to “explain thoroughly to the public” the need to use tax money to ramp up defense spending to two percent of GDP — a goal separately set by NATO that more countries are accepting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.