Kishida and Biden reaffirm strong Japanese-American alliance

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Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and US President Joe Biden reaffirmed the alliance of the two nations. They also pledged to work closely together on what they describe as “broad deterrence” to uphold peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Here is a summary of the key topics from the May 23 joint press conference in Tokyo:

Commitment to a rules-based international order

Kishida said, “President Biden and I have reaffirmed the need to rapidly strengthen the Japan-US alliance on deterrence and response capabilities.” He added that he had spoken to Biden about his plan to build up Japan’s defense capabilities and “significantly increase” spending in that area.

The US President welcomed the commitment, adding that “the United States remains fully committed to the defense of Japan and we welcome the opportunity to work more closely together in an increasingly challenging security environment.” .

US President Joe Biden (left) and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio (right) hold a joint press conference in Tokyo on May 23, 2022.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine

Kishida called the Russian invasion of Ukraine an “inhuman aggression”. “We reaffirmed that any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force will not be tolerated anywhere,” he said.

The Japanese Prime Minister pledged that Japan and the United States will continue to support the Ukrainian government and people.

Biden said cooperation between what are, in terms of economic size, the world’s two largest democracies, has been “particularly vital in organizing the global response to hold Putin accountable for his brutal war in Ukraine and his attack on the norms and principles that are the foundation of our international order.”

He said supporting the Ukrainians sends a strong message of a common will to defend a “rules-based international order”.

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said Japan and the United States reaffirmed that any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force will not be tolerated anywhere at a joint press conference in Tokyo on May 23, 2022.

Counter Chinese influence

Thinking of China, the two leaders said they discussed the situation in Ukraine in light of current security threats. “Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, such as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine…should never be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific,” Kishida noted.

“We agreed to closely monitor the recent activities of the Chinese navy and the joint military exercises of China and Russia,” Kishida said, adding that Japan and the United States “strongly oppose any attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. with the use of force.”

Regarding Taiwan, Kishida maintained that the country’s policy remained unchanged: “We stressed the importance of ensuring peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is an essential element for the peace and prosperity of the international community. . We also called for a peaceful solution to the cross-strait issue.”

Biden said: “We support the one China policy…But…that doesn’t mean China has the ability…the jurisdiction to use force to take control of Taiwan. So we stand firmly with Japan. and other nations not to let this happen and I expect it not to happen, it will not be attempted.”

The US president’s response to a question about Taiwan raised eyebrows around the world.

Journalist: “Are you ready to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?”
Biden: “Yeah.”
Journalist: “Are you?”
Biden: “It’s a commitment we made.”

The United States has a so-called policy of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan, which recognizes Beijing as the government of China and Taiwan as its territory under the “one China policy”.

Some observers say Biden’s remark could be seen as a waiver of that, but the White House quickly issued a statement that US policy remained unchanged.

US President Joe Biden said “yes” when a journalist asked him if he was ready to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan.

North Korea

Kishida expressed concern about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, including the launch of what appear to be intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). He said the two countries’ alliance, and Japan, the United States and South Korea would “cooperate even more closely” on the issue.

Economic framework

Kishida welcomed Biden’s launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) and said Japan would participate in the broad initiative. But he noted that “Japan hopes to see the United States return to the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) from a strategic perspective.”

The IPEF is a US-led economic initiative aimed at improving security in the digital economy, strengthening supply chains and fighting corruption. In addition to the United States and Japan, 11 other countries are on the verge of signing.

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida said Japan would participate in the US-led IPEF economic framework.

UN Reform

Kishida spoke of the need to reform and strengthen the United Nations. He said Biden had expressed support for Japan becoming a permanent member of a reformed Security Council.

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