Kishida Calls for U.S. to Continue Backing Intl Order in Speech to Congress; Expresses Determination to Share Responsibility

Kohei Choji / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress in Washington on Thursday.

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called for the United States to continue to support the international order during an address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Thursday.

“As the United States’ closest friend, ‘tomodachi,’ the people of Japan are with you, side by side, to assure the survival of liberty,” Kishida said.

He urged the United States to remain committed to the international order and said Japan shares the responsibility of maintaining peace, freedom and prosperity.

He delivered his speech, titled “For the Future: Our Global Partnership,” in English over about 35 minutes.

Kishida became the fifth Japanese prime minister to address Congress, and the second to address a joint session of Congress, after then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2015.

“The U.S. shaped the international order in the postwar world … It encouraged the stability and prosperity of nations, including Japan,” Kishida said. “The world needs the United States to continue playing this pivotal role in the affairs of nations.”

The global order is “facing new challenges,” he added. As to China, he said its “current external stance and military actions present an unprecedented and the greatest strategic challenge … to the peace and stability of the international community at large.”

After noting his ties to Hiroshima, where an atomic bomb was dropped, Kishida spoke of the imminent danger of nuclear weapons proliferation in East Asia and the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs.

He also called for closer cooperation between Japan and the United States, saying, the “Ukraine of today may be [the] East Asia of tomorrow.”

Kishida stressed that Japan has transformed itself “from a reticent ally, recovering from the devastation of World War II, to a strong, committed ally, looking outward to the world.”

He noted that he spearheaded efforts to increase the defense budget, as well as other defense measures, before saying, “Today, the deterrence that our alliance provides is stronger than ever, bolstered by U.S. extended deterrence for Japan.”

He also referenced cooperation with South Korea, Australia, India and the Philippines, as well as cooperation through the Group of Seven industrialized nations and with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and expressed his determination to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

There were more than a dozen standing ovations during his speech, including when Kishida described the United States and Japan as “tomodachi” and said that Japan is the largest direct investor in the United States, creating about 1 million jobs in the country.

After the speech, a line of lawmakers waited to pose with Kishida for photos and get his autograph.

Kishida told reporters he believed the Japan-U.S. alliance continues to be solid and that he had successfully conveyed his thoughts to the lawmakers.

He completed his schedule in Washington on Thursday evening and arrived in North Carolina by plane.