President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reflected on the complex security landscape that the world currently faces.
Prior to a Group of Seven summit where leading democracies will address the challenges of Russia’s war in Ukraine, North Korea’s ballistic nuclear threats, and an increasingly assertive China, President Joe Biden, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have met on Thursday in an effort to highlight the strength of their alliance.
During their meeting, President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reflected on the complex security landscape that the world currently faces.
Recalling Kishida’s earlier statement during his visit to Washington in January, where he described the global situation as one of the most intricate in recent history, Biden expressed his complete agreement.
Seated at a conference table alongside their aides, Biden emphasized the importance of unity between their countries, stating that when the United States and Japan stand together, their strength is multiplied, ultimately leading to a safer world for everyone.
Kishida acknowledged that the escalating global tensions had brought the United States and Japan even closer, significantly advancing their cooperation. The bond between the two nations has evolved remarkably, taking great strides forward.
The G-7 summit will be held in Hiroshima, the hometown of the Kishida family. Hiroshima serves as the backdrop, the city where the United States launched its first nuclear weapon during World War II in 1945.
Members of the G-7, which also consists of China and Russia as well as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the European Union, are battling the territorial aspirations of these two nuclear-armed nations.
While attempting to resolve a disagreement on how to increase the government’s debt ceiling in the United States, Biden is also making an appearance on the global scene. In order to return to Washington and attempt to avert a possibly disastrous default in June that may have an impact on the whole global economy, he decided to shorten what was planned to be an eight-day trip to Asia. It’s a scenario that demonstrates how domestic American politics may affect international debates.
The White House national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, told reporters that the G-7 will likely discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine while they were on board Air Force One. He noted that leaders will talk about the combat situation and close gaps to bolster penalties already imposed on Moscow.
The U.S. president and Kishida participated in an 85-minute tea ceremony and a seafood supper when Biden visited Tokyo last year to talk about Indo-Pacific strategy and introduce a new trade framework for the area. Thursday’s first stop for the president in Japan was to welcome American service members at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. After that, he travelled to Hiroshima to meet with the Japanese prime minister.
Highlighting the potential dangers of Russian aggression in 2022, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed his concerns by drawing attention to the situation in Ukraine, stating, “What is happening in Ukraine today could potentially unfold in East Asia tomorrow.”
This remark underscores Kishida’s apprehension regarding the potential ripple effects of Russian actions and their potential impact on the stability of the East Asian region.
China has vowed an unwavering friendship with Russia, boosting commerce in ways that lessened the impact of financial penalties in trying to keep the conflict at bay. However, the United States and its allies claim that China has not yet sent Russia any military hardware, indicating that their friendship may have some limits.
According to a White House summary of the meeting, they also discussed initiatives to strengthen supply chains for essential minerals, new collaborations between American and Japanese businesses and institutions, and initiatives to support renewable energy and assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
Additionally, they aimed to reaffirm the significance of the Taiwan Strait in maintaining global peace and stability, particularly in light of China’s claim that self-governing Taiwan should be under its rule.
The leaders of the United States and Japan also explored avenues to strengthen their trilateral partnership with South Korea. In April, the U.S. and South Korea signed an agreement to bolster their defenses against potential nuclear attacks from North Korea.
During the G-7 summit, Kishida and Biden will hold a trilateral meeting with South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol.
However, Kishida finds himself in a delicate position due to Japan’s historical stance of advocating for a world free from nuclear weapons while discussing efforts to address nuclear threats posed by North Korea. Kan Kimura, an expert on South Korea and a professor at Kobe University, highlighted this complex dynamic surrounding Japan’s position in these discussions.
Japan, in the aftermath of World War II, adopted a pacifist approach, strongly committed to anti-nuclear weapon sentiments. However, the current circumstances are challenging Japan’s long-held pacifism and anti-nuclear weapon tradition.
Christopher Johnstone, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, acknowledged that Prime Minister Kishida faces a delicate balancing act. He recognizes the importance of Japan’s reliance on the United States’ extended deterrence and the need for a nuclear umbrella, particularly given the prevailing security environment.
While there are some unresolved issues between the United States and Japan, President Biden addressed one specific case during his meeting with Kishida in January. He raised the situation involving Lt. Ridge Alkonis, a U.S. Navy officer stationed in Japan, who was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to the negligent driving deaths of two Japanese citizens in May 2021.
Alkonis’s family is seeking his release, alleging that he was detained until he confessed. In addition to the prison sentence, Alkonis agreed to pay $1.65 million in restitution to the victims.
Due to the need to address the debt limit issue, President Biden had to cut short his planned visits to Papua New Guinea and Australia. These visits would have included participation in a meeting of the Quad partnership with leaders from Australia, India, and Japan. Notably, the visit to Papua New Guinea would have marked the first time a sitting U.S. president visited the Pacific Island country.
The White House informed that President Biden personally phoned Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, James Marape, during his travel on Air Force One to explain the necessity of returning to Washington. Biden extended an invitation to Marape and other Pacific leaders to visit Washington later in the year.
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