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President Joe Biden warmly welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to the White House on Friday, as the two leaders were prepared to hold wide-ranging talks at the White House on Friday as Japan looks to build security cooperation with allies amid growing concerns about provocative Chinese and North Korean military action.
“We’re modernizing our military alliance, building on Japan’s historic increase in defense spending and new national security strategy,” Biden said in remarks before reporters in the Oval Office.
“Let me be crystal clear the United States is fully, thoroughly, completely committed to the alliance and more importantly, to Japan’s defense,” Biden said.
WATCH LIVE: White House holds briefing amid Japanese PM visit, special counsel appointment
The two administrations were also ready to seal an agreement to bolster U.S.-Japanese cooperation on space with a signing ceremony by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa.
The Oval Office meeting and signing ceremony at NASA’s Washington headquarters will cap a weeklong tour for Kishida that took him to five European and North American capitals for talks on his effort to beef up Japan’s security.
“Japan and the United States are currently facing the most challenging and complex security environment in recent history,” Prime Minister Kishida said in the Oval Office. In order to ensure our peace and prosperity in the region, he said, “late last year Japan formulated a new national security strategy.
Japan announced in December plans to raise defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product in five years, a dramatic increase in spending for a nation that forged a pacifist approach to its defense after World War II. Japan’s defense spending has historically remained below 1 percent of GDP.
Japan’s push to step up defense spending and coordination comes amid growing concerns that China could take military action to seize Taiwan and worry that North Korea’s spike in missile testing could augur the isolated nation achieving its nuclear ambitions.
His sit-down with Biden is the final face-to-face in a week of talks with fellow Group of Seven leaders that focused largely on his efforts to surge Japan’s defense spending and urge leaders to improve cooperation.
WATCH LIVE: U.S. and Japan sign space cooperation agreement at NASA
With Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, he cemented Japan’s first defense agreement with a European nation, one that allows for the two countries to hold joint military exercises.
Kishida also discussed with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and French President Emmanuel Macron his hopes to improve security cooperation between Japan and their respective nations. Germany was the lone G-7 country not on Kishida’s itinerary.
Japan last month announced plans to buy U.S.-made Tomahawks and other long-range cruise missiles that can hit targets in China or North Korea under a more offensive security strategy, while Japan, Britain and Italy unveiled plans to collaborate on a next-generation jet fighter project.
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