Top Japan, U.S. diplomats affirm ties under PM Kishida

Oct 08 , 2021. 7 hours ago – 01:47 KYODO NEWS

TOKYO – The top diplomats of Japan and the United States agreed Thursday in phone talks to strengthen their bilateral alliance and continue making efforts toward a free and open Indo-Pacific region after Fumio Kishida became Japan’s new prime minister this week.

During the 15-minute call, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who retained his position in the Kishida Cabinet, vowed to continue to work closely with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken “based on the relationship of trust that has been cultivated so far,” according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Both sides “exchanged views on a wide range of issues, such as the regional situation including North Korea and China, as well as cooperation on climate change,” it added.

The U.S. State Department said in a press release that the two affirmed the bilateral alliance is “the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond,” touching on the region influenced by China’s growing assertiveness.

Motegi and Blinken also shared their concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, while affirming their commitment to address and resolve the issues through trilateral cooperation involving South Korea toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the department said.

North Korea has recently conducted a series of missile tests, including those using ballistic missile technologies in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The phone talks between the foreign ministers followed a call between the two countries’ leaders on Tuesday, during which U.S. President Joe Biden offered “strong words of commitment” to the defense of the Senkaku Islands, according to Kishida.

The Senkakus are a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea administered by Japan and claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.

Kishida has said the bilateral alliance remains the foundation of Japan’s foreign policy and that he will work with partners, including Washington, to address Beijing’s “attempts to change the status quo by force” in surrounding waters.

Motegi is one of only two ministers Kishida retained from the previous Cabinet, the other being Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, apparently reflecting his desire to maintain continuity amid such foreign policy challenges.

Cr. KYODO NEWS