Kishida, Biden Agree to Strengthen Deterrence, Response Capabilities of Alliance

Masanori Genko / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden shake hands at the White House on Friday.

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to strengthen the bilateral alliance’s deterrence and response capabilities when the two leaders met at the White House in Washington on Friday.

The U.S. president commended the Japanese government for its efforts to drastically improve defense capabilities and its decision to acquire counterattack capabilities.

The two leaders also agreed to work closely together to promote unity among Group of Seven countries at the G7 summit talks to be held in Hiroshima in May.

The summit talks in Washington lasted about two hours, including a lunch meeting and a 15-minute tete-a-tete with only interpreters present.

“Japan and the United States are currently facing the most challenging and complex security environment in recent history,” Kishida stressed at the start of the talks.

The prime minister explained the revision at the end of last year of Japan’s National Security Strategy, and discussed the decision to drastically enhance defense capabilities and increase defense spending.

The United States expressed full support for Japan’s efforts.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a time when we’ve been closer to Japan in the United States,” Biden said.

During the talks, Kishida mentioned Japan’s plan to procure U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles, which will form a key part of Japan’s counterstrike capabilities. Biden welcomed the plan.

The two leaders called for specific steps for security cooperation, including the development of Japan’s counterattack capabilities, based on agreements reached in a meeting of Japanese and U.S. foreign and defense chiefs on Wednesday.

Kishida and Biden shared the same view on the importance of free and open international order based on the rule of law, eying China and Russia. The two leaders also agreed to work together to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Regarding Taiwan, which has faced increased military intimidation from China, the two leaders stressed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and called for peaceful solutions.

Kishida and Biden also reaffirmed that Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which stipulates U.S. obligations to defend Japan, applies to the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

Regarding the Ukraine situation, the leaders agreed to continue sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine. They stressed that using or threatening to use nuclear weapons was unacceptable.

The two leaders also agreed to work together to realize a world without nuclear weapons.

The prime minister said the Hiroshima summit will include discussions on the international order based on the rule of law and situations in the Indo-Pacific region.

Regarding economic security, Kishida and Biden agreed to nurture and protect critical technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum technology and biotechnology. The two leaders also agreed to cooperate in space.

The two governments issued a joint statement after the talks.

“I was able to reaffirm further cooperation in the Japan-U.S. alliance,” Kishida said after the talks.

Space collaboration pact inked

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed a comprehensive agreement for Japan-U.S. collaboration in space exploration at NASA headquarters in Washington on Friday.

The agreement is intended to enhance bilateral cooperation in response to the advances China has made in space development and is expected to increase opportunities for Japan and the United States to work together in such programs as the Artemis manned lunar mission.

The new deal is expected to boost cooperation in lunar exploration and satellite use, among other things. In the event of accidents in joint projects, damages will now be waived bilaterally under the agreement. Before, related agreements were concluded on a case-by-case basis.

“I hope that Japan-U.S. space cooperation will make strong progress and that the fields of collaboration will further widen,” said Kishida, who attended the signing ceremony.