Kishida meets with Harris in ‘funeral diplomacy’

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris ahead of their meeting at the State Guest House in Tokyo on Monday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida began what is known as “funeral diplomacy” Monday afternoon ahead of the state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the following day.

Over the three days to Wednesday, the prime minister is scheduled to meet with leaders and top officials of more than 30 countries, as well as the heads of international organizations. He was to convey his appreciation for their attending the funeral, and to stress the importance of the state funeral and of holding talks at this time.

Kishida began by meeting with Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, on Monday at the State Guest House in Minato Ward, Tokyo. He also met with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

At the talks with Harris, the two leaders were believed to have reaffirmed the need for close cooperation to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, with an eye on China’s increasingly hegemonic behavior. They were also thought to have exchanged views on the situation involving Taiwan.

After the talks, Kishida was to host a dinner for Harris.

On Tuesday, Kishida is scheduled to meet with dignitaries including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Kishida’s Wednesday meetings are scheduled to include former British Prime Minister Theresa May and South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo.

Prior to Kishida’s talks with foreign officials, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi met with his El Salvador counterpart, Alexandra Hill Tinoco, at the Foreign Ministry on Monday. Hill expressed condolences over the death of Abe, saying the former prime minister had always supported her country.