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Japanese Premier Hails US 'Pivotal Role' In World Affairs

11.04.2024 20:27

Fumio Kishida is first Japanese prime minister to address US Congress since 2015.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday that the US must continue to play a major role in global affairs.

"The world needs the United States to continue playing this pivotal role in the affairs of nations," Kishida said during an address to a joint meeting of Congress.

Kishida said he was speaking to lawmakers as a "long and close friend" of the US as the first Japanese prime minister to address Congress since 2015, and was the sixth foreign leader to address American lawmakers during the presidency of Joe Biden

"And yet, as we meet here today, I detect an undercurrent of self-doubt among some Americans about what your role in the world should be," said the premier.

He said freedom and democracy are currently under threat around the globe as he stressed that the international order is facing new challenges, citing Russia, China and North Korea.

Stressing that China presents "an unprecedented and the greatest strategic challenge" not only to Japan but to the peace and stability of the international community, Kishida said Japan's commitment to upholding a free and open international order based on the rule of law as well as peace will continue to define its agenda moving forward.

'Ukraine of today may be the East Asia of tomorrow'

Turning to the ongoing war in Ukraine, Kishida decried the Russian war against Kyiv as "unprovoked, unjust, and brutal."

"As I often say, the Ukraine of today may be the East Asia of tomorrow," he said, adding close coordination between Japan and the US is required more than ever to ensure that the deterrence Japan-US alliance provides remains "credible and resilient."

"The leadership of the United States is indispensable. Without US support, how long till hopes of Ukraine will collapse under the onslaught from Moscow?" said Kishida, stressing that Japan will continue to stand with Ukraine.

Regarding ties with the US, Kishida said Japan has become a global partner with the US, and hailed the close vision and approach between the countries.

"Today, our partnership goes beyond the bilateral. Examples include trilateral and quadrilateral cooperation among the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, India and the Philippines as well as cooperation through the G7 and with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)," he added.

Japan believes in US leadership and the US economy, he said.

"Japan is the number one foreign direct investor in the United States. Japanese companies have invested around $800 billion, creating almost 1 million American jobs."

The prime minister received a standing ovation from Congress when he said Japan would gift the US 250 cherry trees to be planted around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC to mark the 250th anniversary of American independence.

"I'm here to say that Japan is already standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States. You are not alone. We are with you," Kishida said.

Before his visit to the US, Kishida said with the international community approaching a "historic turning point," he intends to deliver an address firmly focused on the future -- what kind of international community and what sort of future should Japan and the US aim to bring about, and what must Japan and the US do to make those a reality.

"I wish to take this as an opportunity to send out a clear message to the US. Congress, the American people, and, indeed, the entire world regarding such matters as these, based on the various experiences and knowledge I have gained regarding diplomacy," he added.

In the first official visit to the US by a Japanese prime minister in nine years, Kishida met President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday, where they unveiled plans for military cooperation and projects to strengthen their alliance. -

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