Japan’s Kishida, President Biden agree to cooperate on PRC, North Korea

Japan’s Kishida, President Biden agree to cooperate on PRC, North Korea

The Associated Press

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, pictured, held his first talks as Japan’s new leader with U.S. President Joe Biden and confirmed they will work to strengthen their alliance and cooperate in regional security in the face of growing challenges from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and North Korea.

Kishida, who was elected by Japan’s parliament and sworn in October 4, 2021, told reporters that President Biden reassured him of the United States’ commitment to defend the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The PRC also claims the islands and has escalated coast guard activity in the area.

President Biden provided “a strong statement about U.S. commitment for the defense of Japan, including … Senkaku,” Kishida said, adding that the two leaders also reaffirmed that they would tackle together the “challenges facing neighboring regions such as China and North Korea.”

Kishida supports stronger Japan-U.S. security ties and partnerships with other like-minded democracies in the Indo-Pacific, Europe and the United Kingdom, in part to counter the PRC and nuclear-armed North Korea. Kishida has also pledged to beef up Japan’s missile and naval defense capabilities.

Kishida acknowledged the need to continue dialogue with the PRC, a neighbor and trade partner, but said that “we must speak up” against the PRC’s attempt to change the status quo in the East and South China seas.

The leaders confirmed their commitment to work together toward achieving the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” vision of partnerships among the regional democracies as a counter to the PRC’s increasingly assertive activity, Kishida said.

Holding his first talks as prime minister with President Biden is “a first step toward lifting the Japan-U.S. alliance to even higher levels,” Kishida said.

The 20-minute phone talks October 4 started with President Biden congratulating Kishida on succeeding Yoshihide Suga as prime minister. The leaders agreed to meet soon for their first in-person talks.

Kishida later held online talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, agreeing to strengthen their security and economic ties bilaterally and as part of the Quad, which also includes India and the U.S., to promote regional peace and stability, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Kishida expressed support for a newly launched security partnership among Australia, the U.K. and the U.S., known as AUKUS. He and Morrison reaffirmed their objection to what’s seen as the PRC’s economic overbearing and unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the regional seas, the Foreign Ministry said.