TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio will host many foreign leaders, including US President Joe Biden, while making overseas trips on his own in coming months in an effort to play an important diplomatic role as the world struggles with Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Kishida will meet with Swiss President and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo Monday. Kishida will also host New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on separate occasions in April.
Kishida’s discussions with those leaders are expected to focus on a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Switzerland, despite its permanent neutral status, joins the United States and others in imposing sanctions on Russia. Germany is this year’s chair of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies.
“Tokyo wants to help link Europe and Asia together” to address concerns that the crisis in Europe could spill over into the Indo-Pacific region, a Japanese government official said.
Kishida last hosted a foreign leader in November when he met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Tokyo. Japan has been moving to ease COVID-19 border restrictions since March, making it easier for foreign leaders to travel to the country, a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.
Biden is expected to arrive in Japan around May 22 for a summit of leaders from the Quad countries of Japan, the United States, Australia and India. The focus of the summit is whether the leaders will be able to take a unified stance in dealing with Russia and China as India is a nonaligned country.
Kishida wants to exercise leadership as the host of the summit and tout its achievements in his campaigning for this summer’s election for the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of parliament.
He plans to visit three Southeast Asian countries and Britain during Japan’s holiday period between late April and early May. He is also scheduled to attend a G-7 summit in Germany on June 26-28.
Uncertainty remains over whether Kishida will be able to go ahead with his diplomatic activities as planned as the COVID-19 pandemic is unlikely to be brought under control anytime soon.