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President Biden and VP Harris Vow to Bolster U.S.-Japan Alliance with Prime Minister Kishida

President Biden, VP Harris and Prime Minister Kishida. Courtesy White House

US President Joe Biden and VP Harris are hosting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House, as Kishida concludes a week-long diplomatic push to strengthen alliances with European and North American allies in the face of growing Chinese pressure.

The high-level bilateral talks in Washington, DC, on Friday come just days after both countries’ defense and foreign ministers met to discuss ways to strengthen the “US-Japan alliance,” particularly on security issues.

“The United States is fully, thoroughly, and completely committed to the alliance,” Biden told Kishida in the Oval Office prior to their meeting, adding that the countries were collaborating closely on technology and economic issues, such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity.

President Biden, VP Harris and Prime Minister Kishida. Courtesy State Department

“And we’re stepping up to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for his unprovoked war in Ukraine, and I want to thank you, thank you for your strong leadership on this,” the US president said, describing Kishida as “a real leader” and “a real friend”.

In advance of his talks with President Joe Biden, the Japanese prime minister met with US Vice President Kamala Harris, who said the US-Japan relationship is “ironclad” and that the two countries would sign a space cooperation agreement later that day.

The Vice President praised Japan’s new National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Defense Buildup Program, as well as its bold steps to strengthen and defend a free and open Indo-Pacific. The Vice President and Prime Minister discussed regional and global issues, including the threats posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the Vice President reaffirmed our unwavering commitment to the US-Japan Alliance.

The Vice President welcomed the signing of the US-Japan Space Framework Agreement in her capacity as Chair of the National Space Council, which she discussed with Prime Minister Kishida in Tokyo in September 2022. They agreed to expand space cooperation in a variety of areas, including security, commercial, and civil space opportunities.

President Biden, VP Harris and Prime Minister Kishida. Courtesy White House

Kishida signed Japan’s first defense agreement with a European country, with Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, allowing the two countries to conduct joint military exercises.

Kishida also discussed his hopes for improved security cooperation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and French President Emmanuel Macron. The only G-7 country not on Kishida’s itinerary was Germany.

Japan announced plans last month to buy US-made Tomahawk missiles and other long-range cruise missiles capable of hitting targets in China or North Korea as part of a more offensive security strategy, while Japan, the United Kingdom, and Italy announced plans to collaborate on a next-generation jet fighter project.

Officials in the Biden administration have been pleasantly surprised by Japan’s increased efforts to reconsider its security.

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