‘Kishida diplomacy’ gets fully underway

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, left, talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Glasgow on Tuesday.

GLASGOW — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida kicked off “Kishida diplomacy” in Glasgow on Tuesday morning, speaking with multiple world leaders at the U.N. global climate summit.

Kishida traveled to Scotland for COP26, or the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

He spoke briefly with U.S. President Joe Biden, and also met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

It was the first trip abroad as prime minister for Kishida, who announced the dissolution of the House of Representatives immediately after taking office on Oct. 4.

During Kishida’s meeting with Johnson, the two leaders confirmed that they would further promote defense cooperation, noting that Britain’s most advanced aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, docked at the U.S. Navy’s base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in September.

Kishida and Johnson also agreed to seek the early conclusion of a bilateral reciprocal access agreement for the mutual acceptance of troops. The two men met several times when they were both foreign ministers, and Johnson said he was glad to see Kishida, whom he called an old friend.

With Morrison, Kishida is believed to have agreed to enhance close cooperation through the Quad framework of Japan, the United States, Australia and India to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Kishida also met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh. They are believed to have shared concerns over China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

Kishida’s schedule is jam-packed as he prepares to inaugurate his second Cabinet on Wednesday, so he was in Britain for only about eight hours.

He had limited time to meet with world leaders, but Kishida is believed to have decided to go because Japan skipping the COP summit would give the impression that it was not that interested in climate change issues.

“I had the opportunity to reunite with many old friends,” Kishida said to reporters before leaving Glasgow. “We received high praise from many leaders and have been able to firmly demonstrate Japan’s presence. I think my face-to-face diplomacy has started in a very positive way.”

Japan’s foreign policy faces a mountain of challenges, including dealing with China and North Korea, which are stepping up military provocations, and improving relations with South Korea.

Kishida intends to engage in summit diplomacy, making use of the personal connections he cultivated during his four years and seven months as foreign minister.