Biden told Kishida that the United States is deeply committed to Japan’s defense, and praised the military support

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden told Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday that the United States remained firmly committed to its alliance with Japan and praised Tokyo’s “historic” defense reforms.

Kishida is in Washington, the last stop on a tour of the Group of Seven industrialized nations, seeking to strengthen longstanding alliances amid growing concern in Japan and the United States about rising regional security threats from China, North Korea and Russia.

In a White House meeting, Biden called it a “wonderful moment” in the US-Japan alliance, and said the two countries had never been so close.

“Let me be absolutely clear: the United States is fully, comprehensively, and fully committed to the alliance, and most importantly… to the defense of Japan,” he said, while also thanking Kishida for strong leadership in working closely on technology and the economy. Issues.

“We are modernizing our military alliances, building on Japan’s historic increase in defense spending, and a new National Security Strategy,” Biden said.

Kishida thanked Biden for the United States’ work on regional security and said: “Japan and the United States are currently facing the most challenging and complex security environment in modern history.” He said Tokyo formulated its new defense strategy released last month to “ensure peace and prosperity in the region.”

He said that the two countries share the basic values โ€‹โ€‹of democracy and the rule of law, “and the role we play has become greater.”

Kishida said he looked forward to a “frank” exchange of views on issues including the “free and open Indo-Pacific” — the language both sides use to describe efforts to resist China — the Group of Seven countries currently chaired by Japan, and climate. they change.

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Dramatic military change

Japan last month announced its largest military build-up since World War II โ€” in a dramatic departure from seven decades of peace, fueled in large part by concerns about Chinese actions in the region.

Biden commended Japan’s bold leadership in fundamentally strengthening its defense capabilities and strengthening diplomatic efforts, according to a joint US-Japanese statement released after the meeting.

The US and Japanese foreign and defense chiefs met on Wednesday and announced increased security cooperation after nearly two years of talks, and US officials applauded Tokyo’s plans for a military buildup.

A military reform plan would see Japan double defense spending to 2% of GDP and buy missiles that can hit ships or land targets up to 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) away.

A senior US official said Biden and Kishida are expected to discuss security issues and the global economy and that their talks are likely to include controlling semiconductor-related exports to China after Washington announced tough restrictions last year.

Semiconductors

The joint statement said the United States and Japan will “increase our joint acuity with regard to economic security, including the protection and promotion of important and emerging technologies, including semiconductors.”

Kishida earlier met with Vice President Kamala Harris, who said the US-Japanese relationship is “solid” and that the two sides will sign an agreement on space cooperation later in the day.

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Besides the presidency of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations, Japan assumed a two-year term in the UN Security Council on January 1 and holds the monthly rotating presidency of the 15-member council in January.

Kishida said he supports Biden’s attempt to limit China’s access to advanced semiconductors with export restrictions. However, he did not agree to match the sweeping restrictions on exports of chip-making equipment imposed by the United States in October.

The US official said Washington is working closely with Japan on the issue and believes they share a similar vision even if their legal structures differ. He said the more countries and important players supported the controls, the more effective they would be.

A Japanese official said economic security, including semiconductors, is likely to be discussed, but no announcements are expected from the meeting.

The joint statement, which came after North Korea’s decision to dramatically increase its nuclear power and legalize its right to first strike, said.

Kishida’s visit follows a visit by Biden to Tokyo last May and a meeting between the two sides at a regional summit in Cambodia in November.

Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, Andrea Schalal, David Brunnstrom, Michael Martina and Tim Ahmann; Editing by Don Durphy, Alistair Bell, and Grant McCall

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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