TOKYO – President Joe Biden on Monday reassured his “good friend” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida that the United States is fully committed to defending Japan amid tensions with China and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The cornerstone of Biden’s two-day visit, which includes meetings with leaders from Japan, India and Australia in the “quad” group, will mark the beginning of an Indo-Pacific economic framework, a comprehensive plan that provides an economic pillar for the United States. Involved in Asia.
“The US-Japan alliance has long been the foundation of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, and the United States is fully committed to defending Japan,” Biden said at the start of talks with Kishida at the Akasaka Palace in central Tokyo.
Biden was greeted by a military honor guard who played music from both countries under a bright blue sky.
Earlier, he had met Emperor Naruhito, speaking briefly at the entrance to the palace before entering. The White House says Biden greets the American people, highlighting the strength of US-Japan relations through deepening people-to-people ties.
The two countries are expected to discuss plans to expand and reach out Japan’s military capabilities in response to China’s growing power.
In the face of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the Allies are expected to reaffirm their close ties, agreeing that unilateral change in the status quo by force is unacceptable.
Concerns are growing in Asia about a growing stronghold of China, especially in light of its close ties with Russia, and especially over self-governing Taiwan, which China considers an apostate province.
North Korea and regional issues will also be on the agenda, with Biden scheduled to meet on Monday with the families of Japanese who were abducted a few years ago to train spies in North Korea.
But the focus of the day will be the launch of Biden’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), a program to bring countries closer together through common standards in areas including supply-chain resilience, clean energy, infrastructure and digital trade.
The United States has lacked an economic pillar for its Indo-Pacific engagement since former President Donald Trump withdrew from a multinational trans-Pacific trade agreement, leaving the field open for Chinese influence.
But the IPEF is unlikely to include binding commitments, and Asian countries and trade experts have given a steadily warm response to a program limited by Biden’s reluctance to risk American jobs by offering increased market access to the region.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming to Japan for quad talks, and new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is also hoping.
Biden arrived in Japan late Sunday night from South Korea and will leave for the United States on Tuesday. (Reporting by Trevor Hunikat; Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Sakura Murakami, Chang-run Kim and Nobuhiro Kubo; Written by Aline Lies; Edited by Michael Perry, Robert Bircel)