The Japanese and U.S. governments are arranging to sign a partnership deal on climate change when Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga meets with President Joe Biden later this month, diplomatic sources said Monday.
Tackling global warming is expected to be a focus of the April 16 meeting in Washington, along with affirming the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance and cooperation in efforts to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific amid China's growing assertiveness in the region.
"I hope Japan and the United States can take the lead in tackling climate change," Suga told a parliamentary session.
The meeting comes as Biden has vowed to make climate change a top priority of his administration, reversing his predecessor Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement and inviting world leaders to a virtual summit on the issue on April 22-23.
Suga said he plans to unveil Japan's new target for reducing carbon emissions by 2030 soon, and that he hopes to work with Biden to push China, the world's biggest emitter of CO2, to "do its part as a global power."
According to the sources, Suga and Biden are slated to agree to set up working groups to boost cooperation on climate change, COVID-19 measures and cutting-edge technologies.
The leaders are also set to discuss the situation in Taiwan, which the Biden administration has accused China of intimidating by military, diplomatic and economic means, the sources said, with the Japanese and U.S. governments considering whether to refer to the issue in a post-meeting joint statement.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting unification, by force if necessary, and has continued to send fighter jets and bombers into nearby airspace in recent months.
The top diplomats and defense chiefs of Japan and the United States called for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait when they met in Tokyo last month.
"It's important that Japan and the United States cooperate to maintain deterrence and create an environment where Taiwan and China can resolve their differences peacefully," Suga said in a TV program on Sunday.
According to separate sources, the joint statement is expected to affirm the Senkaku Islands fall under the scope of Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty, which states Washington will defend territories under Tokyo's administration from armed attack.
The uninhabited islands in the East China Sea are controlled by Japan but claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu, and frequently sends coast guard ships nearby to assert its ownership.
The meeting between Suga and Biden was initially set to take place on April 9 but was pushed back by one week as the Biden administration focuses on dealing with COVID-19.