New Japan PM Kishida confirms strong alliance with US in talks with Biden

Tuesday, 2021-10-05 10:07:16
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Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. (Photo: Reuters)
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New Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said on Tuesday that he received a "strong" message from President Joe Biden about the United States' commitment to defending the disputed East China Sea islets known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

In phone talks on Tuesday morning that lasted roughly 20 minutes, the allies also confirmed their cooperation toward achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific, Kishida told reporters at the prime minister's official residence.

The call came a day after Kishida called a parliamentary election for Oct. 31 and vowed to bolster the country's response to the pandemic. He was voted in by lawmakers on Monday as the nation's new prime minister.

"We confirmed that we would work together toward the strengthening of the Japan-US alliance and free and open Indo-Pacific," Kishida said. "We also confirmed we would work closely on issues related to China and North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)."

"Especially, the president made a strong comment on the US commitment to defend Japan, including the Article 5 of the US-Japan security treaty," Kishida added, referring to US defence obligations to Japan, which cover the uninhabited island.

Kishida, a 64-year-old former foreign minister with an image as a consensus builder, unveiled a cabinet lineup dominated by allies of former prime minister Abe Shinzo and ex-finance minister Aso Taro.

Defence Minister Kishi Nobuo, Abe's brother, kept his position, as did Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu, reflecting Kishida's intention to continue Abe's push to boost security ties with Washington while preserving trade ties with China.

The new prime minister is also expected to deepen engagement with the United States, Australia, India and Japan - known as the Quad - which Beijing sees as an effort to contain its rise.