U.S. lawmakers traveling to Japan on Saturday, April 16, reaffirmed a working alliance to jointly confront the threat posed by North Korea and China amid growing global tension.
The six lawmakers, led by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who agreed that they should work together to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of China’s growing presence.
The bipartisan delegation of lawmakers includes Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Republican Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Ronny Jackson of Texas.
The six lawmakers’ visit follows their earlier stop in Taiwan. They met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday and declared their support for autonomous island democracy, ACB News said.
That visit sparked anger from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which ordered a military incursion near Taiwan as a warning.
The United States has maintained its support for Taiwan, assuring that it would intervene if the Chinese regime attacked the island.
While Tsai’s government claims that Taiwan is already a de facto independent nation and needs greater international recognition, Beijing claims the island as part of its territory and says it will unify it by force if necessary.
Meanwhile, North Korea also poses a latent threat to the U.S.-Japan alliance amid growing speculation of nuclear tests.
According to defense experts, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could launch missiles this week amid Pyongyang’s celebrations of the anniversary of the birth of its founding leader Kim Il Sung.
For this reason, the U.S. Navy fleet and Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force conducted a joint naval exercise on Tuesday and Wednesday in waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula for the first time in five years, The Diplomat reported.
In March, North Korea tested intercontinental ballistic missiles, prompting the U.S. to impose sanctions on five North Korean entities. Japan also issued sanctions.