Washington: US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed to “push back” against China and condemned North Korea’s spate of missile tests, while Biden underlined US commitment to defending Japan, in virtual talks Friday.
In a video meeting that lasted about one hour and 20 minutes, Biden also agreed to travel to Japan in late spring of this year for an official visit and summit of the Quad, which groups Australia, India, Japan and the United States, a senior US official said.
Biden has made restoring the importance of the US-Japanese relationship a priority since taking office exactly a year ago, following his predecessor Donald Trump’s questioning the benefit of even longstanding US alliances in both Asia and Europe.
After the meeting, which took place by video link behind closed doors, Biden tweeted that it was “an honor to meet with Prime Minister Kishida to further strengthen the US-Japan Alliance — the cornerstone of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the world,” using an alternative name for the Asia-Pacific region.
Much of the discussion was on the growing strategic challenge from China, which has spooked the region with saber-rattling near Taiwan, which considers itself independent but Beijing claims as part of its territory — to be retaken by force one day, if necessary.
The US official said Biden and Kishida expressed concern over China “intimidating” its neighbors.
“The two leaders resolved to push back against the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea” and also “underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the official White House readout after the meeting said.
Biden and Kishida expressed “concern” about Chinese “practices” in Xinjiang province — where the United States says China is committing genocide against the Uyghurs — and in Hong Kong.Regarding Japan’s dispute with China over the uninhabited but strategically located Senkaku Islands, Biden “affirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan, using its full range of capabilities,” the readout said.