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Japan PM Suga speaks with Biden, confirms importance of Japan-US ties

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks to the reporters after his telephone talk with US President-elect Joe Biden, at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Nov. 12, 2020. (AFP)
Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks to the reporters after his telephone talk with US President-elect Joe Biden, at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Nov. 12, 2020. (AFP)
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12 Nov 2020 02:11:11 GMT9
12 Nov 2020 02:11:11 GMT9

Japanese Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide said on Thursday he spoke with US President-elect Joe Biden by telephone and confirmed the importance of bilateral ties, as well as a “free and open Indo-Pacific” region.

Speaking to reporters at the prime minister’s official residence shortly after the call, Suga also said the two leaders agreed to meet in person as soon as possible.

“President-elect Biden said that he looks forward to strengthening the US-Japan alliance and working together on achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Suga said to reporters, in separate comments made at the Prime Minister’s Office.

China’s growing military and economic assertiveness in the region serves as a backdrop for Japan’s hopes to see Biden’s presidency restore a strong US-Japan alliance.

Suga also said he plans on working with Biden on preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus and battling climate change.

The Suga administration aims to achieve net carbon neutrality in Japan by 2050. Biden is planning to bring the United States back to the Paris Agreement, an international framework for combating global warming. The United States officially withdrew from the pact earlier this month under the Trump administration.

One Japanese government source with access to the Suga-Biden phone talks said, “Policy challenges they want to address matched.”

Biden affirmed that the US-Japan security treaty covers the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

In his first telephone talks with Japanese Prime Minister Suga, Biden said that the treaty’s Article 5, which obliges the United States to defend territories under Japanese jurisdiction, is applied to the islands, which are claimed by China.

Commenting on the affirmation by Biden, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that he expressed the US side’s “intention to continue to boost deterrence.”

During a visit to Japan in April 2014, then U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed that the article covers the island chain. Biden was US vice president at the time.

The latest remark by Biden was apparently aimed at holding in check China’s continuing provocation, such as its coast guard ships’ repeated intrusions into Japanese territorial waters around the islands. A senior Japanese government official praised Biden’s assurance regarding the security treaty provision, saying that the phone conversation was “perfect.”

Reuters/JIJI Press

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