Kishida, Biden Herald ‘New Era’ of Strengthened Alliance; White House Summit Talks Lasted About 85 Minutes

Kohei Choji / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, left, shakes hands with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden heralded a “new era of U.S.-Japan strategic cooperation” in a joint statement issued after their meeting at the White House on Wednesday.

At a joint press conference after the meeting, Kishida said that Japan and the United States will reinforce “security and defense cooperation to increase interoperability between the U.S. forces and our Self-Defense Forces, including the improvement of our respective command and control frameworks.”

Biden called the move “the most significant upgrade in our alliance … since it was first established.”

The meeting lasted about 85 minutes, including a 30-minute small group session with only a few members, including Kishida, Biden and the two countries’ foreign ministers.

After the meeting, the United States and Japan issued a joint statement titled “Global Partners for the Future,” which summarized the various cooperation plans.

The enhancement of the command and control framework will focus on increasing the command authority of U.S. forces stationed in Japan in conjunction with Japan’s establishment of the Joint Operations Command that will serve as the central command post for the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces at the end of fiscal 2024.

Kishida said at the press conference that Japan and the United States reconfirmed “the urgency to further bolster the deterrence and response capabilities of our alliance.” Regarding the joint statement, he said, “This is the expression of the determination of Japan and the United States to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order based on the rule of law that underpins the peace, stability and prosperity of the international community.”

With the strengthening of Japan’s defense capabilities in mind, Biden praised Japan’s efforts, saying: “The partnership between Japan and the United States has been transformed into a truly global partnership. And that’s thanks in no small part to the courageous leadership of Prime Minister Kishida.”

Referring to the expansion of bilateral cooperation, Biden said that “the U.S.-Japan alliance is a beacon to the entire world.”

Kishida and Biden also reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate in resolving the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.

“We concurred that the window for a discussion with North Korea is open. And we discussed that Japan and the United States — and Japan, the United States and South Korea — will continue to to work closely together,” Kishida said.

Biden for his part said the United States welcomes the opportunity for U.S. allies to initiate dialogue with North Korea. “I have faith in the prime minister. And I think his seeking a dialogue with them is a good thing,” he said.

He also expressed hope for future Japanese involvement in advanced technology projects under the AUKUS trilateral framework of the United States, Britain and Australia, as the AUKUS nations are considering cooperating with Japan in this area. “That represents a new benchmark for our military cooperation across a range of capabilities,” Biden said.

Kishida praised AUKUS and said that Japan has consistently supported the framework that contributes to peace and stability in the region. But regarding direct cooperation, he said, “Nothing has been decided at this moment.”