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The US election remains in the balance. Joe Biden, the Democrat nominee, this morning said it is “clear we will win”. Meanwhile, the incumbent Donald Trump’s campaign team is challenging many of the votes in the key states in Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Mr Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said he plans to potentially contend the national vote, accusing the Democrats of voter fraud.
The election has dominated the US and much of global political discourse in recent weeks, yet the country still has both domestic and international policies to focus on.
Both Presidential nominations have agreed that their biggest threat and challenge comes in the form of China; they both want to curb and blunt the global superpower’s influence.
A key aspect of their keeping tabs on the area has been in the military occupation of Japan, which has been in place since 1960 when Japan signed into its constitution its adoption of pacifism.
As recently as last week, US troops prepared to station themselves on the disputed Senkaku Islands to fight off a potential Chinese invasion.
Lieutenant-General Kevin Schneider, commander of US Forces Japan, broke the news after landing on a Japanese aircraft carrier during a 10-day military exercise between US and Japanese forces.
They were explicitly directed at deterring Chinese aggression in the East China Sea.
It was a sign that, despite Mr Trump’s rocky rhetoric over defending the region, the US is committed to addressing President Xi Jinping’s expansion plans head on.
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Sean King, senior vice-president of Park Strategies in New York and an affiliated scholar at University of Notre Dame’s Liu Institute, told Express.co.uk said: “You would assume any aggression from China towards Japan would be around the Senkaku Islands.
“The US has 50,000 troops in Japan, most of whom are in Okinawa, which is nearby; it has 23,000 troops in South Korea who could be called on in case of contingency, and however many hours away the US has more troops in Hawaii and Guam.
“So America’s military power is still bigger than China’s, added to this is the fact we’ve got more wartime and experience: Iraq, Afghanistan, and everywhere else.
“But one problem is that we’d be fighting in China’s backyard, not here.
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“So China has the advantage of being on home turf almost, or at least almost on home turf.
“China would be fighting much closer to home so they’d have an advantage there.
“I would think in a spat over the Senkaku Islands depending on the situation, I do think the US would be in a position to defend Japan.”
Despite this, Mr Trump’s commitment has constantly been thrown into question.
In 2019, former national security advisor John Bolton, in his memoir The Room Where It Happened, claimed Mr Trump demanded Tokyo pay $8billion (£6billion) per year for costs associated to American troops or risk their withdrawal.
This was compared to the roughly $2.5billion (£1.9billion) that Japan had been paying.
When asked about this, Mr King said: “Trump likes to harass Japan on defence costs but hopefully that’s a separate business proposition and not a military policy.
“We are by treaty obligated to defend Japan in the case of attack, and in 2014, Obama became the first sitting president to confirm that the Senkaku’s fall under Article 5 of the US-Japan defence treaty.
“Even Trump, in 2017, reconfirmed that position with Shinzo Abe (Japan’s former Prime Minister).
“I have no reason to think we wouldn’t follow through on our treaty obligations; I think Trump’s wanting to get more payment from Japan and South Korea is a side issue but doesn’t undercut the commitment.”
On the US’ recent landing in the Senkaku Islands, General Schneider said: “Our arrival today was simply to demonstrate the ability to move a few people but the same capability could be used to deploy combat troops to defend the Senkaku Islands or respond to other crises and contingencies.”
Many have noted the move would have been unimaginable until recently.
It comes as China looks set to extend its physical influence on its near abroad.
Hong Kong is the perfect example; the semi-autonomous region that was meant to be governed by its own system until 2047 but which came under Beijing’s control this summer.
The US has military bases and operations all around the world, especially in the Pacific region.
For 2020, the Department of Defense Comptroller Office estimates the total cost of overseas bases and deployments at $24.4billion (£18.3billion).
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