The US is strongly committed to Japan’s defense, Biden tells Kishida, applauding the military boost

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden told Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday that the United States remains strongly committed to its alliance with Japan and praised Tokyo’s “historic” defense reforms.

In Washington, Kishida is on the latest stop on a tour of the G7’s industrial powers, seeking to strengthen long-standing alliances amid growing concerns in Japan and the United States about rising regional security threats from China, North Korea and Russia.

Speaking at a meeting at the White House, Biden called it a “remarkable moment” in the US-Japan alliance, saying the two nations had never been closer.

“Let me be crystal clear: the United States is fully, thoroughly and completely committed to the alliance, and more importantly… to the defense of Japan,” he said, also thanking Kishida for his strong leadership in the close cooperation on the fields of technology and economics. issues.

“We are modernizing our military alliances, building on Japan’s historic increase in defense spending and its new national security strategy,” Biden said.

Kishida thanked Biden for America’s work on regional security, saying “Japan and the United States are currently facing the most challenging and complex security environment in recent history.” He said Tokyo formulated its new defense strategy released last month “to ensure peace and prosperity in the region”.

He said the two countries share fundamental values ​​of democracy and the rule of law “and the role we have to play is growing even more.”

Kishida said he looks forward to a “candid” exchange on issues such as “a free and open Indo-Pacific” – language the two sides use to describe efforts to push back against China – the G7, of which Japan currently chairs , and climate change.

DRAMATIC MILITARY CHANGE

Japan last month announced its biggest military buildup since World War II — a dramatic departure from seven decades of pacifism fueled largely by concerns about Chinese actions in the region.

“Biden commended Japan’s bold leadership in fundamentally strengthening its defense capabilities and bolstering diplomatic efforts,” a joint statement from the US and Japan said after the meeting.

U.S. and Japanese foreign and defense ministers met on Wednesday and announced increased security cooperation after nearly two years of talks and U.S. officials praised Tokyo’s military buildup plans.

Japan’s military reform plan will double defense spending to 2% of GDP and purchase missiles capable of hitting ships or land targets 1,000 km (600 mi) away.

Biden and Kishida were expected to discuss security issues and the global economy, and their talks are likely to include control over semiconductor exports to China after Washington announced strict restrictions last year, a senior US official said.

SEMI-CONDUCTORS

The joint statement said the United States and Japan “will sharpen our shared lead in economic security, including protection and promotion of critical and emerging technologies, including semiconductors.”

Kishida previously met with Vice President Kamala Harris, who said the relationship between the US and Japan is “iron strong” and that the two sides would sign an agreement on space cooperation later today.

In addition to presiding over the G7, Japan assumed a two-year term on the UN Security Council on January 1 and holds the rotating monthly presidency of the 15-member body in January.

Kishida has said he supports Biden’s effort to limit China’s access to advanced semiconductors with export restrictions. Still, he hasn’t agreed to match sweeping restrictions on exports of chip-making equipment that the United States imposed in October.

The US official said Washington has been working closely with Japan on the issue and believes they share a similar view, even though their legal structures are different. He said the more countries and key players supported the controls, the more effective they would be.

A Japanese official said economic security, including semiconductors, is likely to be discussed, but no announcement is expected at the meeting.

Biden and Kishida have committed to “enhancing vital trilateral cooperation between the United States, Japan and South Korea,” the joint statement said, which follows North Korea’s decision to exponentially increase its nuclear power and extend its right to codify on a first attack.

Kishida’s visit follows Biden’s visit to Tokyo last May and a meeting between the two at a regional summit in Cambodia in November.

Reporting by Jeff Mason, Andrea Shalal, David Brunnstrom, Michael Martina and Tim Ahmann; Edited by Don Durfee, Alistair Bell and Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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