Biden, Japan’s PM vow to strengthen bilateral relationship

Washington, Apr 16 (EFE).- “We affirmed our ironclad support for the US-Japanese alliance and for our shared security,” President Joe Biden said Friday following talks at the White House with Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga.

The United States and Japan, Biden said, are “two strong democracies in the region and are committed to defending and advancing our shared values, including human rights and the rule of law.”

Suga, the first foreign leader to meet in person with Biden since the president took office in January, said during a joint press conference said that the two men committed to a “global partnership for a new era.”

The meeting included “serious talks on China’s influence over the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific, and the world at large,” the Japanese premier said, speaking through a translator.

Administration officials made it clear that the choice of Suga as the first head of government to get in invitation to the White House was meant to underline the importance Biden attaches to bolstering alliances in Asia as a response to the growing assertiveness of China.

“We’re going to work together to prove that democracies can still compete and win in the 21st century, and still deliver for our people in the face of a rapidly changing world,” Biden said.

In what appeared to be a jab at China, he added that Washington and Tokyo would cooperate to “maintain and sharpen a competitive edge” based on “shared democratic norms set by democracies, not autocracies.”

Suga, meanwhile, seemed to signal a hardening of Japan’s stance toward China.

“As we engaged in an exchange of views over the regional situation, we also discussed the circumstances in Taiwan and (China’s) Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region as well,” the prime minister said.

“I refrain from mentioning details since it pertains to diplomatic exchanges, but there is already an agreed recognition over the importance of peace and stability of the Taiwan strait between Japan and the United States, which was reaffirmed on this occasion,” Suga said.

Japan has traditionally been reticent to speak out about Taiwan, which Beijing considers a rebel province of China.

“We agreed to oppose any attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion in the East and South China Seas and intimidation of others in the region,” Suga said. “At the same time, we agreed on the necessity for each of us to engage in frank dialogue with China, and in so doing, to pursue stability of international relations, while upholding universal values.” EFE llb/dr

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