Kishida to Tout Japan’s Defense Spending in U.S. Speech; Outline Highlights Bilateral ‘Tomodachi’ Relationship 

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

In his address to the U.S. Congress next week, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will note that the international order built up under U.S. leadership is “facing new challenges,” and that Japan will “defend freedom together” with the United States as its “tomodachi” (friend), according to an outline of his speech.

He will also point to Japan’s policy of beefing up its defense capabilities and position the two countries as “global partners for the future.”

Kishida will deliver the speech at a joint session of Congress on April 11 during his visit to the United States. He will become the fifth Japanese leader to do so, with the most recent having been the late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2015. The speech will be made in English in the morning of the day.

According to the outline, Kishida is expected to say that the United States created the postwar international order under the banner of freedom and democracy and to call for it to exercise leadership in today’s world as well.

The world has reached a turning point in history and is “at a fork in the road that will determine the next stage of human history,” the outline said, noting that the U.S.-led international order is facing “new challenges” due to Russian aggression against Ukraine among other factors. Regarding China’s growing military power, Kishida is expected to call it “the greatest strategic challenge ever to the peace and stability of Japan and the international community as a whole.”

He will express Japan’s determination to defend freedom, democracy and the rule of law together with the United States, rather than expecting the United States to do so on its own. He will also touch on the increase in Japan’s defense expenditures ― including related expenditures ― to 2% of gross domestic product based on the National Security Strategy revised in December 2022, expressing Japan’s position on realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Kishida will extoll Japan as the world’s largest investor in the United States and a contributor to job creation there. He will also emphasize that Japan is willing to invest more in the country, saying that “Japan and the United States will lead the world” in the development of next-generation advanced technologies. In his speech, he will call the bilateral relationship “vital to peace and freedom” and “a global partner for the future based on a solid alliance and enduring friendship.”