Biden and Japan’s PM to discuss regional and global issues at White House meet
The mid-January talks will cover North Korea, Ukraine, China's tensions with Taiwan and a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’
US President Joe Biden will hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House on January 13 covering North Korea, Ukraine, China’s tensions with Taiwan and a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” the White House said on Tuesday.
The two leaders will discuss “a range of regional and global issues including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s [DPRK’s] unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes, Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, and maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the White House said.
The meeting between Washington and its key Asian partner in standing up to China’s increasing might comes as North Korea’s missile tests and calls for a larger nuclear arsenal worry US allies in the region.
Kishida announced next week’s US visit in a nationally televised New Year news conference on Wednesday.
Kishida said he will discuss Tokyo’s new security policy and reconfirm close ties with the US. In December, Japan unveiled its biggest military build-up since World War 2 and the White House said Biden will reiterate his full support for Japan’s plans.
“The leaders will celebrate the unprecedented strength of the US-Japan Alliance and will set the course for their partnership in the year ahead,” said the statement from White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
On a visit to Japan in May, Biden applauded Kishida’s determination to strengthen Japanese defence capabilities.
Japan’s $320bn defence plan includes the purchase of missiles capable of striking China and readying the country for sustained conflict, amid concerns that Russia’s Ukraine invasion could embolden China to move against self-ruled Taiwan, a neighbour of Japan.
Japan hosts the Group of 7 (G7) nations this year, including a leaders’ summit in May in Hiroshima that Biden plans to attend. The club, which also includes the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Canada, has been a focus of Biden’s efforts to revitalise US alliances to counter threats from China to Russia and beyond.
“The meeting with President Biden will be more than just a huddle on Japan’s G7 chair takeover,” Kishida said. The Japanese leader will kick off a G7 tour next Monday, visiting France, Italy the UK and Canada before the US.
Japan also took up a two-year term on the UN Security Council (UNSC) on January 1 and holds the rotating monthly presidency of the 15-member body for January.
Japanese minister of foreign affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi told a Reuters NEXT conference last month Japan will use G7 and UN leadership roles to pressure Russia to halt its war in Ukraine.
Christopher Johnstone, head of the Japan programme at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think-tank, said Kishida’s visit would reinforce Japan’s stature as America’s most critical ally in the Indo-Pacific.
He said Kishida would seek Biden’s endorsement of his national security and defence strategies, and in particular support for Japan’s acquisition of counterstrike capabilities.
“Japan’s defence strategy calls for the introduction of US-made Tomahawk cruise missiles in the near term, but does not specify a timeline. Kishida will look for the president’s support to move quickly,” he said.
“They will also focus heavily on ‘economic security’ issues related to China, including co-operation on export controls for sensitive technologies like semiconductors.”
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