“Bringing Japan’s industrial capacity to bear for military equipment production will introduce technological advantages and economic efficiencies that would otherwise be lacking. That’s something that Japan has been somewhat reluctant to do in the past,” noted Dr Thomas Cynkin, a former US diplomat who served in Japan.

Mr Biden and Mr Kishida announced 70 agreements in all, including cooperation in business, technology and space. But the pronounced focus was on defence, and Mr Kishida’s support for it.

“It was Abe who had a reputation well deserved for being very internationalist and assertive in foreign policy, but these advances are now taking place under Prime Minister Kishida, who comes from Hiroshima and has a somewhat dovish reputation,” said Dr Cynkin, who is currently with the R Street Institute, a non-partisan public policy research organisation based in Washington. He was referring to the assassinated Japanese leader, Mr Shinzo Abe, an early advocate of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“The fact that Kishida’s taking the lead to strengthen Japan’s foreign and security policy is quite remarkable. It reflects this shift in consensus in Japan, which is not formed in a vacuum but formed under pressure from China,” Dr Cynkin said.

Under Mr Kishida, Japan released a new China-focused national security strategy in 2022. It has also been providing support for the Ukraine war and aid for Gaza amid a more expansive global role.

The country has also increased its defence spending to 2 per cent of its gross domestic product, a rise of 50 per cent over the last two years.

Could a “bigger, better” alliance also mean an arms build-up in Asia? The US-based analysts were sceptical.

Dr Cynkin called it a “misplaced” perspective amid the backdrop of North Korean missile and nuclear threats as well as China’s maritime assertiveness in the East and South China Seas.

“It’s like saying if you’re engaged in self-defence, that somehow you’re promoting war. And if South-east Asia is looking at it from a larger perspective, then it would see that Chinese aggressive activity has been a singular concern,” he said.

“The Chinese military has been expanding and China’s aggressiveness, particularly when it comes to territorial disputes, is growing. And there’s a necessity of responding to that,” he added.