Japan’s Kishida warns world
 Spiraling geopolitical tensions have pushed the world to a “historic turning point” and are forcing Japan to change its defense posture, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told CNN Sunday ahead of a closely watched summit with US President Joe Biden next week.

“As we are witnessing Russia’s Ukraine aggression, the continuing situation over the Middle East, as well as the situation in East Asia, we are faced with a historic turning point,” Kishida said during an interview at his private residence in Tokyo.

“That is why Japan has made a decision to fundamentally reinforce its defense capabilities and we have greatly changed Japan’s security policy on these fronts,” he said.

Kishida made the remarks days ahead of his Wednesday meeting with Biden in Washington, where he will also address a joint session of Congress and participate in the very first trilateral summit between Japan, the United States and the Philippines.

The Kishida-Biden summit has been characterized by Washington as a historic opportunity for the two countries to modernize their alliance as both eye regional threats from North Korea’s weapons testing and burgeoning relations with Russia to China’s aggression in the South China Sea and toward Taiwan.

Partnership with Japan has long been central to US strategy in the Indo-Pacific, but the defense relationship has expanded under Kishida, who has raised Japan’s profile in global and regional security.

‘Stronger than ever’

Kishida’s visit with Biden next week also comes as both leaders face uncertain circumstances at home.

The Japanese prime minister grapples with dismal approval ratings, primarily following scandals involving his party, and the looming US elections raise the potential of a policy shake up if former President Donald Trump returns to the White House next year.

Both during his administration and in more recent years Trump has repeatedly poured cold water on Washington’s defense and security treaties, something that has rattled allies in both Asia and Europe alike.

Kishida declined to comment on if he was concerned about a return of the former president. Instead, he expressed belief that the importance of the US-Japan alliance was widely recognized “regardless of party affiliation.”

“The relationship between Japan and the United States has become stronger than ever before … Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, I think it is important to make sure that the American people recognize the importance of the Japan-US relationship,” he said.

Since taking office, Kishida has also positioned Japan as a partner to the US not only in Asia, but more globally.

He has championed a view that security in Europe and the Indo-Pacific are inextricably linked, while emerging as a staunch backer of Ukraine and closely aligning with G7 countries in its position on Russia.

Those linkages have been close to home for Japan, as Russian and Chinese militaries conduct joint drills in the region and North Korea has now been accused by G7 nations of supplying Moscow with arms for use in its war in Ukraine – raising global concerns about an emerging axis between the three countries who all have tense relations with the United States.

Moving away from pacifist past

Since coming to office in 2021, the prime minister has overseen a sweeping shift in Tokyo’s defense posture, veering away from the pacifist constitution imposed on it by the United States in the aftermath of World War II, to boost defense spending to about 2% of its GDP by 2027 and acquire counterstrike capabilities.

That move is not without controversy, especially in China and other parts of Asia that suffered hugely under Japan’s World War II era militarism.

When asked about that shift, Kishida pointed to the “severe and complex” security environment surrounding his East Asian nation, the world’s fourth-largest economy.

“In our neighborhood, there are countries that are developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, and others that are building up their defense capabilities in an opaque way. Also, there is a unilateral attempt to change the status quo, by force, in both the East China Sea and South China Sea,” he said, in an apparent reference to Chinese maritime aggression related to territorial disputes with both the Philippines and Japan.

Building Japan’s deterrence and response capability is also “essential” for the alliance with the United States, he argued.

“I hope the US will understand this, and that we can work together to improve the region’s peace and stability. I think it’s important to show the rest of the world that the US and Japan will further evolve our collaboration, through my visit,” Kishida said.

Next week’s events will also be a platform for deepening expansion between Japan and another key US regional partner and mutual defense treaty ally, the Philippines.

It comes less than a year after a ground-breaking meeting between the US, Japan and South Korea – with both summits underscoring the centrality of Japan in America’s Indo-Pacific security strategy and th

President Joe Biden will host Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at the White House next week for an official visit to the United States, which will include a joint news conference and a state dinner.

Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden will welcome Kishida and his wife, Kishida Yuko, to Washington on April 8 for a meeting. The news conference will take place April 10, followed by the state dinner.

The visit and state dinner – the fifth Biden has hosted as president – emphasize the importance of the alliance between the United States and Japan, as both countries seek to counterbalance China’s influence.

“The visit will underscore the enduring strength of our Alliance, the unwavering US commitment to Japan, and Japan’s increasing global leadership role,” read a media advisory from the White House.

“President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida will discuss efforts to strengthen our political, security, economic, and people-to-people ties so that our Alliance is postured to address evolving challenges and advance our shared vision for a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region and world.”

It also comes as the federal government reviews the economic and political implications of Japan-based Nippon Steel’s acquisition of US Steel in a $14.1 billion deal.


The sale has drawn bipartisan criticism. US Steel was once the most powerful company in the world and a symbol of America’s status as an industrial powerhouse.

Biden said in a statement last month it was “vital” the company remains American-owned and operated.

“It is important that we maintain strong American steel companies powered by American steel workers. I told our steel workers I have their backs, and I meant it,” Biden said in the March statement. “US Steel has been an iconic American steel company for more than a century, and it is vital for it to remain an American steel company that is domestically owned and operated.”

Biden and Kishida last met in-person during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco in November. They had also met earlier in 2023 during a trilateral summit at the Camp David presidential retreat between Biden, Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

e push for increasing coordination with allies and partners amid rising regional tensions.

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