Biden hosts Kishida, in strong message to China  


Over 70 items covering a wide array of critical sectors are expected to be announced as part of the bilateral meeting between the two leaders…reports Asian Lite News

President Joe Biden on Wednesday hosted Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio for a state visit and held a crucial Oval Office meeting, reinforcing his commitment to bolstering the vital partnership in the Indo-Pacific amid a militarily and economically resurgent China.

Over 70 items covering a wide array of critical sectors are expected to be announced as part of the bilateral meeting between Biden and Kishida, according to senior administration officials.

These include a commitment to changing the US force structure in Japan to improve how Japanese and US forces are integrated, establish a ‘military-industrial council’ to evaluate where the two countries can co-produce defence weapons to improve cooperation, and items related to integrating anti-missile defence between the US, Australia and Japan, according to officials.

The announcements are all part of a major update to the nation’s military alliance but elements of them will take some time to implement, including the change to the US force structure, which will take several months for both countries to work through, a senior official noted, according to CNN.

Speaking on the White House, South Lawns, on Wednesday morning, Biden touched on the “monumental alliance between our two great democracies.”

“Together, we made it closer, stronger and more effective than ever before in history,” Biden said at an official arrival ceremony.

He also recognised Japan’s gift of 3,000 cherry trees more than 100 years ago as a symbol of that alliance, blooming each spring in Washington, DC. Japan has committed to planting 250 new trees along the Tidal Basin to honour the US’s 250th birthday in 2026.

Biden acknowledged the ‘devastating’ history between the US and Japan. He travelled to Hiroshima last year for a summit with G7 leaders and toured the Hiroshima Peace Museum, which chronicles the vast destruction of the US atomic bomb in the city in 1945, in the closing days of World War II.

It would have been easy for the two countries to remain adversaries given their bloody history, Biden noted.

“Instead,” he said, “we made a far better choice: We became the closest of friends.”

“Today”, Biden added, “Our democracies are beacons of freedom shining across the globe.”

The leaders are also expected to detail space collaboration at a time when Japan has signalled an interest in landing its first astronaut on the Moon and lay out ways to increase people-to-people ties amid lagging student exchanges between the two countries in recent years. The astronaut would be the first non-American to set foot on the moon.

Some of these partnerships include a joint artificial intelligence research initiative between Carnegie Mellon University and Keio University in Tokyo, as well as another AI-related exchange between the University of Washington and Washington State and Tsukuba University in Japan, according to the officials. This will also include creating a scholarship to fund high school students from the US to travel to Japan to study and vice versa.

But even as the US and Japan are bolstering their cooperation across a range of sectors, the two countries have seen a recent difference on the economic front with the president opposing Japan’s efforts to purchase US Steel.

Responding during a joint news conference to a question about the acquisition of the company– at one point one of the most powerful companies in the world–by Japan-based Nippon Steel, Kishida described the USD 14.1 billion acquisition as an ‘investment’ in the United States.

“We hope these discussions will unfold in directions that would be positive for both sides,” Kishida said. However, he did not directly address whether the two leaders discussed the acquisition during a private meeting held earlier in the day.

Biden, who previously said it was ‘vital’ that the company remain American-owned and operated, said during the press conference–the first he’s held in 2024–that he stands by “my commitment to American workers”.

The meeting between Biden and Kishida will be followed later this week by the first-ever leaders’ summit between the US, Japan and the Philippines with Biden working to draw Pacific allies and partners closer as the region grapples with China’s aggression and nuclear provocations from North Korea.

Kishida said during the news conference that Japan will continue to call on China to “fulfil its responsibilities as a major power”, while also striving to establish a ‘constructive and stable’ relationship with the superpower.

“We confirmed that unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion is absolutely unacceptable wherever it may be,” he added.

All of the deliverables on the agenda are part of a concerted military, diplomatic and strategic effort to try and ‘flip the script’ and counter Chinese efforts to isolate American allies such as the Philippines and Japan, according to the senior administration official.

“The idea of switching to a multilateral, lattice-like strategic architecture is to flip the script and isolate China,” the official added.

Further Japan has been at the centre of Biden’s alliance building in the Indo-Pacific, as officials have seen a willing partner in Kishida, who has significantly shifted the country’s defence posture in recent years and provided ongoing support to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (ANI)

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