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Kishida, Biden agree to boost alliance amid Ukraine war, China worries

Kishida, Biden agree to boost alliance amid Ukraine war, China worries

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to boost the strength and deterrence of their nations' alliance Monday in Tokyo as Russia's war in Ukraine has increased uncertainties in the region facing China's growing assertiveness and North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. Following their first in-person, sit-down meeting, 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 they oppose such attempts in the East and South China seas. 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 reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, where China has stepped up pressure against Taiwan. Biden said the United States is willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan, noting, "That's the commitment we made." Beijing sees the democratic island as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary. 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 capability." Biden also 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." Kishida said Biden 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. At the joint press conference, he also shared that the leaders affirmed that next year's Group of Seven summit will be held in Hiroshima, a Japanese city that suffered a U.S. atomic bombing in 1945. Kishida called for the two nations to lead in realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific, a vision widely seen as countering China's increasing clout in the region. 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 Regarding the new U.S.-led Indo Pacific economic framework, to be launched later in the day in a bid to push back against China, Kishida said Japan will join the framework while maintaining that it would be desirable for the United States to return to a major Pacific free-trade deal originally known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Kishida has been affirming with his counterparts opposition to any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force, regardless of the location, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine has heightened concerns that a similar situation could arise in East Asia. "No matter how many times we affirm it, we can't affirm it too much," a Japanese government official said. Biden shares the view and also seeks to send a message that "the United States is here for our allies and partners," according to a senior administration official. "We are here to help provide deterrence and defense for the ROK and Japan. We will respond to any threats and any aggression decisively," the official told reporters, referring to North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs and other regional security challenges. ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name. Biden and South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol affirmed in a summit Saturday in Seoul that trilateral cooperation, also involving Japan, is crucial in responding to the North Korean threat. The two allies also aligned in continuing sanctions against Russia for its aggression in Ukraine while agreeing on close communication among the Group of Seven nations to better respond to rising energy and food prices brought about by the war. The seven leading democracies have implemented various punitive measures, including freezing the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country's central bank, along with excluding some major Russian lenders from a key international payment network known as SWIFT. The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union, have also stated their commitment to phasing out their dependency on Russian oil in their latest attempt to put more pressure on Moscow, which launched its military campaign against Ukraine on Feb. 24. 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

Kyodo News Digest: May 23, 2022

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