US President Joe Biden welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to the White House on Wednesday to showcase a strong and growing partnership focused on joint defence cooperation to deter an aggressive China.
The summit kicked off with an official arrival ceremony on the White House South Lawn, followed by a closed-door meeting, a joint news conference planned for the Rose Garden, a state dinner and a performance by musician Paul Simon. A red-coated fife-and-drum corps played “Yankee Doodle” and marched before the two leaders during the elaborate arrival ceremony featuring honor guards from each US military branch.
Biden lauded the Japanese leader’s quick “courageous” opposition to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine and for improving relations with South Korea. He noted that he and Kishida had strolled across the lawn on Tuesday night to admire three Japanese cherry trees.
“Ours is truly a global partnership. For that, Prime Minister Kishida, I thank you,” Biden said. “Now our two countries are building a stronger defence partnership and a strong Indo-Pacific than ever before.”
Kishida, speaking after Biden, said the cherry trees that line the Tidal Basin near the White House are a “symbol of the friendship between Japan and the US.” “As a global partner, Japan will join hands with our American friends and together we will lead the way in tackling the challenges of the Indo-Pacific and the world,” he said. Kishida will address the US Congress today and join Biden and Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for a meeting expected to focus on Beijing’s South China Sea incursions.
The US and Japan have hammered out about 70 agreements on defence cooperation, including moves to upgrade the US military command structure in Japan to make it better able to work with Japanese forces in a crisis.
Biden and Kishida are also expected to announce steps to allow more joint development of military and defence equipment.
The two leaders will announce plans for a joint lunar space mission and projects to work together on artificial intelligence research, US officials said.