Biden, Kishida vow deeper security cooperation as China looms large

WASHINGTON – US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed on Friday to cooperate closely in the realms of defence and economics, calling their countries’ alliance the cornerstone of peace in an increasingly tense Indo-Pacific region.

China loomed large throughout the summit, with both leaders stressing the threat that an increasingly assertive and muscular Beijing posed to the international order and regional stability.

“We’re modernising our military alliance, building on Japan’s historic increase in defence spending and new National Security Strategy,” said Mr Biden, as he hosted Mr Kishida at the White House.

“Let me be crystal clear: The United States is fully, thoroughly, completely committed to the alliance and, more importantly, to Japan’s defence,” he added.

The two countries also inked a deal to boost cooperation in the peaceful exploration of space, an agreement that comes as they plan for missions to the moon and Mars.

Friday’s summit at the White House capped Mr Kishida’s week-long tour of leading industrialised countries in the Group of Seven, which Japan holds the rotating presidency of this year.

The meeting comes a month after Japan drastically overhauled its National Security Strategy to almost double its defence spending and acquire counterstrike capabilities in response to an enemy attack, citing security threats from China, North Korea and Russia.

Those three countries threaten the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region, said Washington and Tokyo in a joint statement on Friday.

“The Indo-Pacific faces growing challenges, from actions inconsistent with the rules-based international order by China to provocations by North Korea. In Europe, meanwhile, Russia continues to wage its unjust and brutal war of aggression against Ukraine,” said the statement.

It added: “This landscape demands that the United States and Japan continue to strengthen our individual and collective capacity.”

Mr Biden reiterated America’s “unwavering commitment” to the defence of Japan, and the two leaders also instructed their ministers to boost cooperation in developing and effectively employing Japan’s counterstrike and other capabilities, said the statement.

Mr Kishida said that Japan and the US were “facing the most challenging and complex security environment in recent history”.

He pledged that the two countries would play an even greater role in the region and the world, stressing that they shared fundamental values such as democracy and the rule of law.

The two leaders soundly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and warned that any use of a nuclear weapon by Russia in Ukraine “would be an act of hostility against humanity and unjustifiable in any way”.

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