Biden Hails ‘Unbreakable’ US-Japan Relations at Start of Kishida Summit

Wed Apr 10 2024
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WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden hailed “unbreakable” US-Japanese ties on Wednesday as he greeted Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a lavish White House summit featuring a major upgrade in defense relations against China — and music by Paul Simon.

Rolling out the red carpet for the 66-year-old Kishida and his wife Yuko, Biden underscored the importance of Japan as a strategic ally in the Asia-Pacific region amidst growing challenges posed by Beijing.

During the summit, Biden and Kishida are expected to announce plans to restructure the US military command in Japan, marking the most significant enhancement in defense cooperation between the two countries since the 1960s. This restructuring aims to enhance responsiveness to emerging threats in the region.

Following their discussions, Biden and Kishida are scheduled to hold a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden at 12:30 pm (1630 GMT).

First Lady Jill Biden previewed the gala state dinner, describing it as a celebration of the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan. She emphasized the shared commitment to peace, democracy, and collaboration in addressing global challenges.

The summit reflects Biden’s prioritization of building alliances to address geopolitical challenges posed by countries like China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran amidst ongoing conflicts in regions such as Gaza and Ukraine.

The leaders will also convene the first trilateral summit between Japan, the Philippines, and the United States on Thursday, aiming to strengthen regional alliances amid escalating maritime tensions with China.

While the summit agenda includes discussions on a range of issues, such as defense cooperation and technology, the topic of a Japanese takeover of US Steel is not expected to be addressed during the meetings.

The Kishidas were welcomed with a seafood dinner hosted by the Bidens on Tuesday night, followed by an exchange of gifts, including a signed record by US musician Billy Joel.

The state dinner at the White House will feature Japanese-inspired cuisine, followed by a performance by renowned singer-songwriter Paul Simon, concluding a day of diplomatic engagements and strategic discussions between the US and Japan.

The summit marks Kishida’s first state visit to the United States and underscores Japan’s evolving role in regional security and defense cooperation, as highlighted by US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel.

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