Biden, Japan’s Kishida Focus on Boosting Security Cooperation to Counter China

Biden, Japan’s Kishida Focus on Boosting Security Cooperation to Counter China

President Biden met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House on Friday as the US and Japan step up security cooperation to counter China’s military rise.

“To be crystal clear, the United States is totally, totally, totally committed to the alliance — and most importantly to the defense of Japan,” Mr. Biden said, opening their meeting in the Oval Office.

In a joint statement issued Friday afternoon, the two leaders reaffirmed Tokyo’s decision to buy hundreds of U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles to bolster its new defense posture and said they “have instructed their ministers to strengthen cooperation on the development and effective use of Japan’s counterattack and other capabilities.”

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Mr. Biden reiterated the US commitment to Japan’s defense “using the full range of its capabilities, including nuclear.”

The meeting came after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and their Japanese counterparts held discussions in Washington earlier this week. After that meeting, the two countries announced plans to protect Japanese satellites, equip Tokyo with long-range missiles and upgrade US naval forces in the country.

During his visit, Mr Kishida presented the defense plan he released in December, which includes an increase in spending and purchases of US weapons such as Tomahawk missiles.

“I believe this will be beneficial to the deterrence capabilities and response capabilities of the alliance,” he said in comments before meeting Mr. Biden on Friday.

Mr. Kishida has said the plan shows Japan is moving forward to play a central role in its defense and filling holes left by years of what he calls underinvestment in the military.

“There are a lot of fighter jets and transport planes that can’t move because we don’t have enough parts,” he said last month. “Also, we have not invested enough to date in areas that are said to be game-changing, such as defensive capabilities using unmanned vehicles.”


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The prime minister hopes to counter an argument sometimes heard in Washington, including during the Trump administration, that America does more for its allies than it gets in return.

John Kirby, the White House’s National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, praised Japan’s defense plan. “Japan has proven to be a steadfast ally, willing to step up and do its part to advance our shared national security interests and values,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Messrs. Biden and Kishida discussed economic issues including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, an economic platform aimed at countering China’s influence in the region that was launched during the US president’s trip to Tokyo last year. According to the White House, other economic items on the agenda included the summit of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies that Japan is hosting in Hiroshima in May. Mr. Biden is expected to travel to Japan for the summit.

While economic ties between the two countries are generally sound, Mr Kishida was expected to raise concerns about recently approved subsidies for electric vehicles, which US allies including Japan describe as unfairly protecting domestically-made goods. USA. The joint statement issued by the White House after the meeting did not mention the issue.

Allies oppose measures in the Inflation Reduction Act that require subsidy-eligible electric vehicles to be assembled in North America and impose strict regulations on battery supply.

“We are using every meeting and every avenue to convey Japan’s concerns” to the US, Trade Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said in November. “Japan, the US and like-minded countries have been cooperating to increase the resilience of our supply chains” and the US law “is incompatible with this overall strategy aimed at building resilience,” he said.

Leaders also touched on semiconductors, according to the White House. The US and Japan have been in talks about Tokyo joining US borders on exports of advanced semiconductors and chip-making equipment to China. Officials in both countries say they are nearing a deal, but snags remain, including the participation of the Netherlands, the home country of chipmaker ASML Holding NV.

For Mr Kishida, 65, the biggest takeaway from the visit may be pictures of him forging a further bond with the president, who visits Tokyo in May 2022. Since then, the prime minister’s approval ratings have taken a hit following revelations about the ties. between his ruling party and the church founded by Rev. Moon Sun-Myung, formerly known as the Unification Church.

A poll released on Tuesday by public broadcaster NHK found support for Mr Kishida’s cabinet at 33%, with 45% opposed. The survey did not provide a margin of error.

Japan’s most stable prime ministers, including the late Shinzo Abe, have typically won voters’ trust by showing they are on good terms with American presidents. With gifts and frequent golf games, Mr. Abe built a relationship with then-President Donald Trump.

Write Peter Landers at Peter.[email protected] and Andrew Restuccia at [email protected]

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