Biden In Japan For G7 Talks
By Patsy Widakuswara
U.S. President Joe Biden arrived Thursday evening in Japan for a summit of leaders of the Group of Seven richest democracies, that will focus on countering what they have billed as China’s “economic coercion,” growing assertiveness and military buildup, as well as supporting Ukraine in its battle against a Russian invasion.
Shortly after landing at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Biden greeted a group of about 400 U.S. and Japanese troops before heading to Hiroshima, the site of the G-7 talks, for a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Biden told Kishida that the United States and Japan “stand up for shared values,” including supporting Ukraine and holding Russia accountable for its war of aggression.
“The bottom line, Mr. Prime Minister, is that when our countries stand together, we stand stronger. And I believe the whole world is safer when we do,” Biden said.
The summit kicks off Friday. Prior to their meetings, Biden and Kishida will visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, with other G-7 leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the European Union. A group of nonmembers have also been invited as part of Kishida’s effort to engage with the Global South. Those nations include Australia, Brazil, Comoros, Cook Islands, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Ukraine and Vietnam.
White House officials said Biden will not be apologizing for the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that killed at least 130,000 and 60,000 people respectively.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Japan, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said there will be “discussions about the battlefield” in Ukraine and on the “state of play on sanctions and the steps that the G-7 will collectively commit to on enforcement.”
Biden’s trip has been truncated to accommodate his negotiations with Congressional leaders over raising the U.S. debt ceiling to prevent the country from defaulting on its obligations. On Sunday, instead of continuing to Sydney for the Quad summit with a brief stop in Papua New Guinea to meet Pacific Island leaders, Biden will return to Washington.
Hiroshima, a major city on the southern end of Japan’s main island Honshu, is also Kishida’s hometown. The city was destroyed by the atomic bomb during World War II, making it a symbolic choice for the summit. The setting is also intended to underscore the Japanese leader’s focus on nuclear nonproliferation amid geopolitical rivalries over Ukraine between nuclear powers U.S. and Russia, and the threat of nuclear weapons from North Korea and Iran.
Biden reaffirmed to Kishida, “U.S. extended deterrence commitments using the full range of U.S. capabilities” — similar language to the recently signed Washington Declaration between the U.S. and South Korea that reinforces Washington’s nuclear umbrella to deter attacks from Pyongyang.
Observers will be watching whether at least some elements of the Washington Declaration will be extended to Japan. A trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit has been scheduled but not yet confirmed, amid warming ties between the two U.S. allies whose relations have been marked by animosity stemming from centuries of acrimonious history culminating in the brutal 1910-1945 Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
The Biden administration’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review includes a statement that a nuclear attack against the United States or its allies and partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of the perpetrator.
Chris Hannas contributed to this report.