Posted on

Biden welcomes his first foreign leader to the White House

President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga talked about the uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes occurring in the U.S.

during Biden’s first in-person meeting with a world leader. 

‘I discussed the increase of discriminations or violences against Asian people across the U.S. with President Biden and agreed that discrimination by race cannot be permitted by any societies,’ Suga said during the leaders’ joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden. ‘We agreed on this regard.’   

Last month, the group stop AAPI Hate said 3,795 hate crimes against Asian-Americans occurred in the United States between March 19, 2020 and February 28, as China was blamed for the coronavirus spread.  

‘President Biden’s comment [that] discriminations or violences cannot [be] allowed and that he firmly opposes was extremely encouraging for me and I have renewed my confidence in American democracy once again,’ the Japanese leader added, through his English translator. 

Suga said the two leaders ‘agreed on the necessity for each of us to engage in frank dialogue with China.’ 

‘We also had serious talks on China’s influence over the peace and prosperity over the Indo-Pacific and the world at large,’ Suga said.

‘We agreed to oppose any attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion in the east and south China seas and intimidation of others in the region.’ 

They also spoke about keeping North Korea’s nuclear ambitions in line.  

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) and President Joe Biden (right) hold a brief press conference Friday in the White House Rose Garden

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) and President Joe Biden (right) hold a brief press conference Friday in the White House Rose Garden

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) and President Joe Biden (right) hold a brief press conference Friday in the White House Rose Garden 

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) and President Joe Biden (right) appeared together Friday at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) and President Joe Biden (right) appeared together Friday at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) and President Joe Biden (right) appeared together Friday at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden

President Joe Biden (right) walks Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) to their podiums Friday in the White House Rose Garden

President Joe Biden (right) walks Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) to their podiums Friday in the White House Rose Garden

President Joe Biden (right) walks Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) to their podiums Friday in the White House Rose Garden 

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters he and President Joe Biden spoke about the uptick in hate crimes against Asians in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters he and President Joe Biden spoke about the uptick in hate crimes against Asians in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters he and President Joe Biden spoke about the uptick in hate crimes against Asians in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic 

‘We confirmed our commitment to the CVID of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges and agreed to demand North Korea to fulfill its obligations under security council resolutions,’ Suga said. 

Biden spoke first – and gave Suga more time to review their talks with the press – and so he didn’t use that particular acronym, which generally means complete, verifiable, irreversible, denuclearization. 

The day began with a private meeting in the Oval Office and then an expanded meeting in the State Dining Room. 

‘This is the first foreign leader to visit me in my presidency.

And I’m really pleased to welcome such a close ally and a great partner,’ Biden said then, with key cabinet members at his side. ‘The United States and Japan have a big agenda ahead of us.’ 

In the Rose Garden, Biden talked about the importance of in-person meetings. 

‘There’s no substitute for face-to-face discussion,’ Biden said.

‘We are still taking COVID precautions, being careful, but our commitment to meeting in person is indicative of the importance and value we place in this relationship between Japan and the United States.’  

Suga began his brief remarks in the State Dining Room by sending condolences to the victims and their family members of the U.S.’s latest mass shooting, Thursday night in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

‘Innocent citizens must not be exposed to any such violence,’ Suga said.

‘Freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are the universal values that link our alliance that is prevalent in the Indo-Pacific.’ 

Suga said he hoped to talk about common challenges like COVID-19 and climate change. 

The ever folksy Biden called the Japanese leader by his first name and when it was his turn to talk said, ‘As we say in the body that I used to work in, the United State Senate, I yield the floor to the prime minister.’   

Later, in the Rose Garden, Biden commented on golfer Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters win. 

‘You’ve got a Japanese boy coming over here and winning the Masters,’ Biden said to Suga.

‘He won the green jacket … the first Japanese player to take home that green jacket.’ 

‘Let me say congratulations to Japan as well, on that feat,’ Biden added. 

Suga also told Biden he wished to go forward with the Olympics in Tokyo, despite the continued COVID-19 risk.

‘I told the president about my determination to realize the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games this summer as a symbol of global unity,’ Suga said.

‘President Biden once again expressed his support for his determination.’ 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki wouldn’t say earlier at the Friday briefing if Biden planned to attend the games.  

The leaders’ discussion of hate crimes against Asian-Americans comes as the Biden administration has made a concerted effort to repair any damage made by President Donald Trump referring to COVID-19 as the ‘China virus’ and ‘kung flu.’ 

Just days into his presidency, Biden signed an executive order to make it U.S.

government policy to stamp out those references.  

He’s also spoken out against the hate crimes several times, including in the aftermath of the Atlanta, Georgia shootings – in which Asian spas were targeted and Asian-American made up the bulk of the shooter’s victims. 

President Joe Biden (left) sits across from Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (second from right) during his first in-person meeting with a world leader Friday

President Joe Biden (left) sits across from Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (second from right) during his first in-person meeting with a world leader Friday

President Joe Biden (left) sits across from Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (second from right) during his first in-person meeting with a world leader Friday

President Joe Biden held his first in-person meeting with a world leader Friday, with Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Jake Sullivan (center), Biden's national security adviser, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (right) listen to the president speak

President Joe Biden held his first in-person meeting with a world leader Friday, with Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Jake Sullivan (center), Biden's national security adviser, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (right) listen to the president speak

President Joe Biden held his first in-person meeting with a world leader Friday, with Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Jake Sullivan (center), Biden’s national security adviser, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (right) listen to the president speak  

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin listens to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speak in the State Dining Room on Friday

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin listens to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speak in the State Dining Room on Friday

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin listens to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speak in the State Dining Room on Friday 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) listens alongside President Joe Biden (right) during a visit from Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) listens alongside President Joe Biden (right) during a visit from Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) listens alongside President Joe Biden (right) during a visit from Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga 

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrives at the White House Friday for talks with President Joe Biden

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrives at the White House Friday for talks with President Joe Biden

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrives at the White House Friday for talks with President Joe Biden  

The vehicle carrying Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga drives through a military honor guard as it arrives at the White House on Friday

The vehicle carrying Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga drives through a military honor guard as it arrives at the White House on Friday

The vehicle carrying Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga drives through a military honor guard as it arrives at the White House on Friday 

A member of the military honor guard carries an American and Japanese flag ahead of a meeting between President Joe Biden and Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga

A member of the military honor guard carries an American and Japanese flag ahead of a meeting between President Joe Biden and Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga

A member of the military honor guard carries an American and Japanese flag ahead of a meeting between President Joe Biden and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga 

The choice to host Suga reflects Biden’s emphasis on strengthening alliances to deal with a more assertive China and the meeting’s aim was to counter messaging from Chinese President Xi Jinping that America and democracies in general are on the decline.

The White House also announced on Thursday that Biden will host President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea to the White House in the second half of May for a visit, furthering putting the focus on China.

Before the meeting, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said China and regional security in Asia will be on the agenda.

‘Our approach to China and our shared coordination and cooperation on that front will be part of the discussion, as will our joint commitment to the denuclearization of North Korea,’ she said Thursday at her press briefing.  

‘Security will be a prominent issue – regional security – as well.

So I would say these relationships have a range of areas of cooperation. It’s an opportunity to discuss those issues in person, and I would anticipate that China will be a part of the discussions,’ she added.

The Biden administration calls managing United States policies toward the Indo-Pacific, where China under Xi is flexing growing economic and military power, the primary challenge for the United States. 

That helped guide Biden’s decision, announced this week, to pull U.S.

troops out of Afghanistan and free the administration to focus more on East Asia.

But a senior administration official said officials are not trying to provoke China but are trying to hold it accountable for infractions. 

‘I do want to underscore that neither country is seeking to raise tensions or to provoke China,’ the official said on a briefing call with reporters on Thursday.

‘But, at the same time, we’re trying to send a clear signal that some of the steps that China is taking – for instance, its airplane, its fighters and bombers, flying them into Taiwan’s airspace – is antithetical to the mission of maintaining peace and stability.’ 

President Joe Biden is welcoming Japan's prime minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House on Friday in his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader

President Joe Biden is welcoming Japan's prime minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House on Friday in his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader

President Joe Biden is welcoming Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House on Friday in his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader

Japan's prime minister Yoshihide Suga is pictured boarding a plane from Japan to the United States

Japan's prime minister Yoshihide Suga is pictured boarding a plane from Japan to the United States

Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga is pictured boarding a plane from Japan to the United States

Biden is looking to stengthen alliances to deal with a more assertive China and the meeting with Suga will look to counter messaging from Chinese President Xi Jinping, pictured, that America and democracies in general are on the decline

Biden is looking to stengthen alliances to deal with a more assertive China and the meeting with Suga will look to counter messaging from Chinese President Xi Jinping, pictured, that America and democracies in general are on the decline

Biden is looking to stengthen alliances to deal with a more assertive China and the meeting with Suga will look to counter messaging from Chinese President Xi Jinping, pictured, that America and democracies in general are on the decline 

President Barack Obama was seen as cajoling China, in hopes of encouraging reforms. President Donald Trump initially praising Xi but later took on China with tariffs and insults while building a golf-buddy relationship with Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe. 

Biden has taken a different approach as he is reaching out to allies to try to form united fronts.

Suga and Biden ‘aim to show to the world that democracies can provide to the world an example,’ said Kenju Murakami, Japan’s deputy consul-general in New York.

Suga, a farmer’s son who rose to Japan’s highest political office after an early stint as a worker in a cardboard factory, succeeded boss Abe last September, after long serving as his chief Cabinet secretary.

The Prime Minister expressed eagerness to meet with Biden early on despite global COVID-19 lockdowns.

He looks to showcase security commitments with the United States, Japan´s only treaty ally.

Suga, while heading to Washington, told reporters he aimed to build ‘a relationship of trust’ with Biden. The meeting was scheduled after Suga and his team received their COVID vaccines so they are fully innocculated. 

The months-old Biden administration, for its part, looks to Suga to keep going on alliance-strengthening moves by both countries.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, pictured, arrives at Andrews Air Force Bas on Thursday

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, pictured, arrives at Andrews Air Force Bas on Thursday

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, pictured, arrives at Andrews Air Force Bas on Thursday

The Japanese delegation walks off the plane after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland on Thursday

The Japanese delegation walks off the plane after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland on Thursday

The Japanese delegation walks off the plane after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland on Thursday

U.S. Armed Services Honor Guard moves into position as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrives at Andrews Air Force Base

U.S. Armed Services Honor Guard moves into position as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrives at Andrews Air Force Base

U.S.

Armed Services Honor Guard moves into position as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrives at Andrews Air Force Base

The two governments have been working to strengthen technology supply chains independent of China during a shortage of semiconductors that’s worrying businesses around the world. 

Japan is expected to announce an investment in 5G cellular networks, boosting alternatives to China’s network, as part of that supply chain cooperation.

Both countries are expected in coming days to make deeper commitments to cutting climate-wrecking fossil fuel emissions, in line with Biden´s climate summit with 40 world leaders next week.

The Biden administration may also have tougher requests of Japan, including pressing Suga for a rare public statement of support from a Japanese leader for Taiwan. 

China, which claims the self-governed island of Taiwan as its territory, tested U.S. and Taiwanese resolve weeks into the Biden administration by sending fighter jets and bombers near Taiwan.

Japan long has moved cautiously on steps that might worsen relations with China, though Suga has been more outspoken. His administration pushed its comfort zone in a statement stressing ‘peace and stability’ on the Taiwan Strait. 

That came during a visit last month by Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, which was the Biden administration’s highest-level face-to-face meeting at the time.

World leaders worry about Taiwan as a trigger for conflict between China and the United States.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned his Japanese counterpart in a call ahead of Suga’s visit to see to it that China-Japan relations ‘do not get involved in the so-called confrontation between major countries,’ according to a Chinese government readout.

Japan’s backing of the U.S.

presence in the Pacific is growing as the nations promote a ‘free and 歡迎光臨 open Indo-Pacific’ vision of the democracies to counter China.

But Japan’s economy is intertwined with China’s. 

That means even ‘with security concerns on the rise, Japan would have to take a two-pronged approach to balance competition and cooperation,’ said Akio Takahara, a professor and China expert at the University of Tokyo.

Japan considers China´s growing military activity as well as its broad territorial claims to be a security threat.

Japan is itself locked in a dispute with China over Beijing’s claim to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea.

Elsewhere, Tokyo has watched with concern as China has built military installations on disputed territory it claims in the South China Sea.

U.S.

ships regularly conduct so-called freedom of navigation operations, sailing into international waters that China claims as its own.

China also has taken note of the Biden administration’s support for reviving a loose four-country coalition with Japan, India and Australia, known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad. 

Biden and Suga on Friday are expected to announce steps through the Quad framework to help India produce COVID-19 vaccines.

The Quad was formed initially to coordinate relief efforts after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Tanvi Madan, an expert on India and its Indo-Pacific relations at the Brookings Institution, noted that it faded away for a time in part over concerns that its existence would provoke China by suggesting the countries were ganging up on it.

<

p class=”mol-para-with-font”>But ‘lately, all the things we worried about that China would do if they were provoked, they’re already doing anyway,’ Madan said.