During a recent meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, US President Donald Trump reassured the Japanese leader that the US "stands behind Japan 100 percent".
Earlier, US Defense Secretary James Mattis also reiterated Washington's commitment to defending Japan, including a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea, which are claimed by both China and Japan. The top military official defended the US' position in the territorial disputes by citing Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty saying that the US will defend territories under Japanese administration.
These facts indicate that the US-Japan alliance is becoming more closer, as China is strengthening its military buildup in the contested South China Sea and North Korea is growing more provocative with launch of ballistic missiles.
In the interview with the Sino-US.com, Zhu Feng, executive director of the Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies at Nanjing University, pointed out that the closer alliance of US and Japan takes aim at China.
Blow are the views of Zhu.
The meeting between US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reflects the two countries' intent to upgrade their alliance to one not only focusing on security but also on economic cooperation.
Over the past 25 years, the traditional US-Japan alliance has seen an escalation from defending their own territories to maintaining the regional security and strengthening economic and strategic collaboration.
The core of the Abe government's domestic and foreign policies is conspicuously to contain China economically and militarily in partnership with the US, a goal that could be achieved through establishing closer and stronger ties with the US.
On the part of the US, as Trump has not clarified his China policy yet, he is expected to use Japan as a card in carrying out his policy towards Asia.
But the problem is whether or not Trump will continue the rebalance to Asia policy adopted by his predecessor Barack Obama remains uncertain. To be sure, the new US president is not interested in multilateral free trade agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord, which is a key part of the rebalance to Asia strategy.
The US' Asia Pacific policy comes at time when it urgently needs Japan to be an intimate ally.
In addition, the need for building a closer US-Japan alliance is also driven by concerns over North Korea's military provocations.
(Opinions expressed in the article don't represent those of the Sino-US.com.)