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Kishida, Biden to boost alliance as Ukraine war fans China worries

Kishida, Biden to boost alliance as Ukraine war fans China worries

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed Monday to boost the strength and deterrence of their nations' alliance amid growing concern that Russia's war in Ukraine could embolden China to take further assertive behaviors over Taiwan and other potential flashpoints in the Indo-Pacific region. Following their first in-person, sit-down meeting in Tokyo, Kishida said at a joint press conference the two leaders "reaffirmed that any attempt to change the status quo by force is absolutely impermissible, regardless of the location," and that they oppose such attempts in the East China Sea, including the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, and the disputed South China Sea. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) and U.S. President Joe Biden attend a joint press conference in Tokyo on May 23, 2022. (Pool/Getty/Kyodo) Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (L) and U.S. President Joe Biden attend a welcoming ceremony at the State Guest House in Tokyo on May 23, 2022, ahead of their talks. (Pool photo) (Kyodo) ==Kyodo The two also underlined the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, where China has stepped up pressure against Taiwan. Biden said the United States will get involved militarily in the event of a contingency over Taiwan, noting, "That's the commitment we made." China immediately expressed anger and firm opposition to Biden's remark because the country regards the democratic self-ruled island as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary. In a joint statement issued after the summit, Kishida and Biden urged China to "stand with the international community and unequivocally condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine." They requested that China, which has been increasing its nuclear capabilities, "contribute to arrangements that reduce nuclear risks, increase transparency, and advance nuclear disarmament," the statement said. The leaders also shared serious concerns about North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. The country has conducted a slew of missile launches this year, and speculation is rife that it has completed preparations for another nuclear test. "As the regional security environment becomes increasingly severe, I reaffirmed with President Biden that we need to speedily strengthen the deterrence and response of the Japan-U.S. alliance," Kishida said, adding that he conveyed his determination to "fundamentally strengthen" Japan's defense capabilities. Biden said, "The United States remains fully committed to Japan's defense, and we welcome the opportunity to work more closely together in an increasingly challenging security environment." Biden underscored the U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan, "backed by the full range of capabilities, including nuclear," and the two leaders "affirmed the critical importance of ensuring that U.S. extended deterrence remains credible and resilient," according the statement. Kishida expressed his resolve to examine all options necessary for national defense, including capabilities to counter missile threats, and stated his determination to secure a "substantial increase" of its defense budget, without touching on details. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) and U.S. President Joe Biden hold talks at the State Guest House in Tokyo on May 23, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has asked Kishida to consider doubling Japan's defense budget to 2 percent or more of its gross domestic product and called for the development by the Self-Defense Forces of counterstrike abilities aimed at disabling enemy weapons and missile infrastructure. At the joint press conference, Kishida said next year's Group of Seven summit will be held in Hiroshima, a Japanese city that suffered the devastation of a U.S. atomic bombing in 1945 -- an announcement backed by all of Japan's G-7 partners. Kishida said Biden also expressed support for Japan becoming a permanent member of a reformed U.N. Security Council. Russia, a permanent member, vetoed a U.S.-led draft Security Council resolution that would have condemned Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Kishida and Biden condemned Russia's "brutal, unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine," and pledged to coordinate with like-minded countries in continuing sanctions on Moscow so as to impose long-lasting economic costs on the country, the statement said. During the summit, Kishida called for Tokyo and Washington to take the lead in realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific, a vision widely seen as countering China's increasing clout in the region. Both leaders voiced concern over the recent security agreement between China and Solomon Islands, which they said "was concluded in a non-transparent manner without addressing regional voices of concern," according to the statement. As Biden launched the Indo-Pacific economic framework Monday in Tokyo, Kishida announced Japan's participation in the U.S.-led initiative intended to balance China's rising economic clout in the fast-growing region. At the same time, the Japanese leader called on the United States to return to a major Pacific free-trade deal originally known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In addition to the United States and Japan, the initial members of the IPEF are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. The members together represent 40 percent of the world's GDP. Kishida and Biden stressed the critical importance of close security cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea, and underlined their commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Biden, on the first leg of his Asia trip, met with South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol on Saturday in Seoul and affirmed that trilateral cooperation, also involving Japan, is crucial in responding to the North Korean threat. Following the summit, Biden met with the families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, and promised U.S. commitment to the immediate resolution of the abduction issue. The U.S. and Japanese national flags are raised in front of the parliament building in Tokyo on May 23, 2022. U.S. President Joe Biden has visited Japan for the first time since taking office in January 2021. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo Gist of Japan-U.S. summit talks The following is the gist of talks between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden held Monday in Tokyo. The two leaders: -- oppose unilateral attempts to change status quo by force in East China Sea, coercive activities in South China Sea -- stress importance of peace, stability across Taiwan Strait -- expressed concern about security agreement between China and Solomon Islands. -- called for more transparency in Beijing's increase in nuclear capabilities. -- condemn Russia's unprovoked and unjustified aggression in Ukraine -- stress need for global unity in punishing Moscow with sanctions to inflict long-lasting economic costs. -- urged China to unequivocally condemn Russia's aggression in Ukraine. -- expressed serious concern about North Korea's missile and nuclear development. -- commit to action to advance shared vision of free, open Indo-Pacific, where international order is challenged. -- agree to cooperate in defending critical technologies, such as semiconductors, and in strengthening economic security. Kishida: -- says Japan to fundamentally bolster defense capabilities, boost defense spending accordingly. -- announces Japan's participation in U.S.-led Indo-Pacific economic framework. -- calls for U.S. return to Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. -- says Biden supports Japan as permanent member of revamped U.N. Security Council. Biden: -- welcomes Japan's decision to host G-7 summit in Hiroshima in 2023. -- says U.S. committed to defending Taiwan should China invade island. -- reaffirmed Senkaku Islands in East China Sea fall under Article 5 of bilateral security treaty aimed at defending Japan territory if attacked. Related coverage: Emperor Naruhito meets U.S. President Biden in Tokyo Biden makes 1st visit to Japan as U.S. president to beef up alliance APEC trade meet ends without joint statement, remains apart on Russia

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