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Japan prime minister confirms alliance with U.S. in talks with Biden


Fumio Kishida, Japan’s prime minister, answers questions from reporters after having telephone discussions with Joe Biden. He was in Tokyo at the office of the prime minister on October 5, 2021.

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New Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday that he received a “strong” message from President Joe Biden about the United States’ commitment to defending the disputed East China Sea islets known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

Talks on Tuesday morning lasted about 20 minutes and the allies agreed to cooperate in achieving a Free Indo-Pacific. Kishida spoke at the official residence of the prime minister.

This call was made just days after Kishida had called for a parliamentary vote on Oct. 31, and pledged to help the country respond to the pandemic. The nation elected him as its new prime Minister on Monday.

“We confirmed that we would work together toward the strengthening of the Japan-US alliance and free and open Indo-Pacific,” Kishida said. We also agreed to work closely with North Korea and China on matters related to these two countries.”

“Especially, the president made a strong comment on the U.S. commitment to defend Japan, including the Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan security treaty,” Kishida added, referring to U.S. defense obligations to Japan, which cover the uninhabited island.

Japan has become increasingly concerned about Chinese activity in the East China Sea, including incursions into waters around the disputed islands, known as the Diaoyus in China.

Kishida (64-year-old ex-foreign minister who has a reputation for consensus building and a strong image) unveiled a cabinet made up of allies including Shinzo Abe, former prime minister, and Taro Ao, former finance minister.

Nobuo Kishi the Defense Minister, Abe’s brother, retained his position. Toshimitsu Motegi was also kept in office, reflecting Kishida’s intent to keep Abe’s push for increased security ties between Washington and China while maintaining trade relations with China.

The new prime minister is also expected to deepen engagement with the United States, Australia, India and Japan — known as the Quad — which Beijing sees as an effort to contain its rise.

Kishida is originally from the LDP’s traditional dovish faction. His campaign to become the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was a tilt to the right, reflecting the wider shift in LDP that Abe’s long-standing tenure has prompted.

Kishida stated that the acquisition of the capability to strike enemy bases was an option. He also said that Abe would support it. A special aide will be appointed to oversee China’s treatment Uyghur minorities. China denied any allegations of abuse.

The new position of economic security minister is one of Kishida’s most prominent appointments. Kishida resigned to be replaced by Takayuki Kbayashi (46-year-old Harvard graduate and Tokyo University alumnus) who worked in policy areas aimed at protecting China’s sensitive information, such as cyber security and supply chain management.