Kishida, Biden agree to launch 2-Plus-2 economic talks

Courtesy of Cabinet Public Relations Office
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, talks online with U.S. President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Friday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed Friday that the two governments will launch a “two-plus-two” framework for talks among their foreign and economic ministers to discuss economic security, infrastructure investment and other issues.

During their 80-minute video conference, Kishida and Biden confirmed their commitment to beefing up the deterrence power and response capability of the Japan-U.S. alliance. With China’s growing military pressure in mind, they underscored the significance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

The Japanese and U.S. leaders also agreed to hold a summit meeting of the Quad countries, also including Australia and India, in Japan in the first half of this year. Biden will visit Japan to attend the Quad summit.

The virtual meeting marked the first full-fledged talks with the U.S. president for Kishida, who took office last autumn. They held telephone talks in October and had a short conversation in Britain in November, on the sidelines of a U.N. climate conference. Kishida’s visit to the United States has yet to be realized due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two-plus-two economic dialogue will comprise Japan’s foreign minister and economy, trade and industry minister, as well as the U.S. state and commerce secretaries.

The Japanese and U.S. governments will aim to hold promptly the first talks under the new framework, aimed at reinforcing supply chains, preventing the leakage of advanced technologies and promoting decarbonization efforts.

Also at the meeting, Kishida and Biden affirmed their countries’ close cooperation in dealing with North Korea, which has recently suggested that it could resume nuclear tests and the test-firing of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Biden expressed his country’s strong support for Japan’s efforts to resolve as soon as possible the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese citizens decades ago.

Meanwhile, the president reconfirmed that the United States’ defense obligation under Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty covers the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by China.

Kishida mentioned his administration’s intention to fundamentally strengthen Japan’s defense capacity, including through the planned update this year of its national defense strategy.

Referring to the current tensions over Ukraine, the two leaders agreeed to closely cooperate to prevent a possible invasion by Russia.

Elsewhere in the virtual meeting, Kishida and Biden affirmed Japan-U.S. cooperation toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons.