U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson has told a high-ranking government official that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will address a joint session of Congress during his official visit in April, sources with knowledge of the situation said Friday.

The U.S. side will soon formally inform the Japanese government of its decision to invite Kishida to deliver a congressional speech, the sources said, adding that Washington and Tokyo will try to realize his appearance in the legislature possibly on April 11.

The last Japanese leader to address the U.S. Congress was then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2015, during the administration of President Barack Obama.

In late January, the White House said U.S. President Joe Biden will host Kishida for an official visit, which includes a state dinner in Washington, on April 10.

During his visit, Kishida is most likely to pledge that Japan will further strengthen its long-standing alliance with the United States and play an active role in ensuring peace in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere.

The 66-year-old leader is also likely to highlight Japan's increasing defense spending and deepening trilateral cooperation with the United States and South Korea, amid China's assertive actions and North Korea's weapons advances.

In his possible congressional speech, attention is on whether Kishida, a lawmaker representing a constituency in Hiroshima, will say anything about his life's work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Abe, who was killed by a man armed with a homemade gun in 2022, visited the United States as a state guest ahead of the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.

In his speech given before the joint meeting, the first by a Japanese prime minister, he acknowledged Japan's wartime past and expressed "deep remorse" for its actions.

Prior to Johnson's notification to the U.S. government official, the chamber's committee on foreign affairs, as well as a bipartisan group of senators, asked the House speaker to invite Kishida to address Congress during his official visit.

A letter sent to the speaker by the group said doing so would be a "timely and tangible expression of the unwavering commitment of the United States to our alliance and to a free and open Indo-Pacific."

The group, led by former U.S. ambassador to Japan Republican Sen. William Hagerty and Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono, also said a strong alliance between the two countries is "more important than ever" due to serious security challenges in the region.

The speaker is in charge of convening a joint session of Congress. Since Biden took office in 2021, the foreign leaders who addressed the U.S. legislature include Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

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