United States president Biden Japanese PM Suga discuss Chinese influence over Indo-Pacific
Apr 17 2021
US President Joe Biden on Friday gave his backing to Japan's efforts to hold a "safe and secure" Olympic Games this year after talk of cancelation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. "This is an alliance that is connected by universal values, such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law", Suga said.
It's Biden's first in-person meeting with a foreign leader, as he seeks to reallocate US military and diplomatic resources to the Indo-Pacific in an effort to counter China's growing power.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, meanwhile, expressed her support when Suga conveyed Japan's resolve to hold the Olympics this summer to demonstrate "world unity", according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry's press release on their meeting. "We will also cooperate with other countries in the region including the ASEAN, Australia and India", Suga said at a joint press conference after holding a meeting with US President Joe Biden.
"We also had serious talks on China's influence over the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific and the world at large".
"This is a time like no other in which the Japan-US alliance needs to be strong", Suga said.
Suga in September succeeded his ally Shinzo Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, who was one of the few democratic allies to manage to preserve stable relations with Biden's volatile predecessor Donald Trump.
Speaking through a translator, Suga expressed his honest gratitude for inviting him as the first foreign guest in Washington despite the COVID-19 pandemic since the inauguration of the Biden administration.
What else did Biden, Suga say on East Asia?
Japan's ambassador to the U.S., Koji Tomita, recently told VOA the need for a stronger U.S.
Sporting events also made the agenda between the two leaders.
Taiwan is very sensitive issue for China, whose ruling Communist Party claims as its territory despite having never ruled it. Washington is required by US law to provide the island with the means to defend itself, despite not recognizing Taiwan as a country.
It says Japan and the USA recognize the importance of candid conversations and direct sharing of concerns with China, while acknowledging the need to work with China on areas of common interest.
Biden will lead a virtual summit next week in hopes of rallying greater commitments on climate amid growing evidence of a planetary crisis as average temperatures hit record highs and natural disasters become more frequent. Although they didn't have a formal lunch or dinner as part of their meeting because of COVID-19 considerations, Biden and Suga had a private get-to-know-you session in the Oval Office before their business meeting, without most aides in the room. That was before both countries normalized their diplomatic ties with China. His administration pushed its comfort zone in a statement stressing "peace and stability" on the Taiwan Strait.
Japan considers China's growing military activity as well as its broad territorial claims to be a security threat.
"If the statement had gone further, for example, if it had gone back to the 1969 Nixon-Sato Joint Statement, stating that 'the maintenance of peace and security in the Taiwan area was also a most important factor for the security of Japan, ' that goes a little bit further and China might be even more upset". Japan is itself locked in a dispute with China over Beijing's claim to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea.
USA ships regularly conduct so-called freedom of navigation operations, sailing into global waters that China claims as its own.