Biden, Japan's PM focus on China, North Korea in first bilateral meeting
Apr 17 2021
Biden and Suga see their meeting as a chance to counter messaging from Chinese President Xi Jinping that America and democracies in general are on the decline, after the political turmoil and backing away from global leadership that marked Donald Trump's presidency.
"We're going to work together to prove that democracies can still compete and win in the 21st century, we can deliver for our people in the face of a rapidly changing world", he added.
Biden did not mention Taiwan by name amid concerns from worldwide watchdogs that China may take military action against the island.
The comment comes amid Beijing's increased military pressure on the self-ruled island that is claimed as a province by the government of mainland China.
Biden's early meeting with Suga, as well as his planned get-together next month with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, another important Pacific Rim ally, reflect the administration's effort to bolster the United States' alliances with both countries as a way of countering China's rising economic and military ambitions, as well as deterring nuclear-armed North Korea.
Suga said he and Biden agreed on the necessity of frank discussions with China in the context of Beijing's activities in the Indo-Pacific region.
As Beijing steps up air incursions in Taiwan, Biden and Suga in the statement emphasized "the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait" and encouraged "the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues".
"Prime Minister Suga wants to walk a careful course and we respect that".
Biden appeared determined to get off on the right foot with Suga after four years in which Trump sometimes chastised allies in Asia and elsewhere over what he saw as insufficient defense spending or funding for USA troop presence and questioned the value of bedrock military alliances.
In a highly unusual comment by a Japanese leader on the USA domestic scene, Suga also voiced concern over a wave of attacks in the United States against people of Asian descent.
President Biden has sought to focus his administration's foreign policy on the challenges posed by China - a topic he is set to discuss with Japan's prime minister on Friday.
But when asked about whether the United States promised to send athletes to the games, Suga simply reiterated that Biden has supported his determination.
Biden will lead a virtual summit next week in hopes of rallying climate pledges amid growing evidence of a planetary crisis as average temperatures hit record highs and natural disasters become more frequent.
"We confirmed that Japan and the USA will lead global decarbonization", Suga said.
What do they say about technology?
At the White House news conference, Suga said he told Biden that he was committed to moving forward with the summer Olympic Games in Japan and that Biden offered his support.
China's Huawei has taken an early dominant role in 5G, which is becoming a crucial part of the global economy, despite heavy U.S. pressure on the company, which Washington argues poses threats to security and privacy.
Even with their mutual interest in a strong bilateral relationship, Biden and Suga's long-term diplomatic success is far from assured, given the challenges in the region and the difficulty of containing China, Japan's largest trading partner.
Mr Suga and Mr Biden are also expected to discuss regional security including North Korea, China and China-Taiwan issues.