Kishida: World Needs U.S.

JAPAN’SPrime Minister Fumio Kishida addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber, Thursday, April 11, 2024, at the Capitol in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson look on. / AP
JAPAN’SPrime Minister Fumio Kishida addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber, Thursday, April 11, 2024, at the Capitol in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson look on. / APJacquelyn Martin

WASHINGTON — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed United States lawmakers at the Capitol on Thursday, urging them to consider the importance of global commitments at a time of tension in the Asia-Pacific and deep skepticism in Congress about U.S. involvement abroad.

Kishida is in Washington this week visiting President Joe Biden as the White House completes hosting each leader of the Quad — an informal partnership between the U.S. Japan, Australia and India that is seen as important to countering China’s growing military strength in the region. Kishida highlighted the value of the U.S. commitment to global security and offered reassurances that Japan is a strong partner.

On Capitol Hill, his audience included many Republicans who have pushed for the U.S. to take a less active role in global affairs as they follow the “America First” ethos of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. The Republican-controlled House has sat for months on a $95 billion package that would send wartime funding to Ukraine and Israel, as well as aid to allies in the Indo-Pacific like Taiwan and humanitarian help to civilians in Gaza and Ukraine.

“As we meet here today, I detect an undercurrent of self-doubt among some Americans about what your role in the world should be,” Kishida told Congress.

Role

He sought to remind lawmakers of the leading role the U.S. has played globally since World War II. After dropping two nuclear weapons on Japan to end the war, the U.S. helped rebuild Japan, and the nations transformed from bitter enemies to close allies.

“When necessary, it made noble sacrifices to fulfill its commitment to a better world,” Kishida said of the U.S.

Japan has taken a strong role in supporting Ukraine’s defense against Moscow as well as helping humanitarian aid get to Gaza. It is also seen as a key U.S. partner in a fraught region where China is asserting its strength and North Korea is developing a nuclear program. Kishida offered reassurances that Japan is also committed to global security and human rights. He said that since recovering from the “devastation of World War II,” Japan has transformed from a reticent ally to a strong partner “standing shoulder-to-shoulder” with the U.S.

The prime minister called China’s stance “unprecedented” and “the greatest strategic challenge, not only to the peace and security of Japan but to the peace and stability of the international community at large.”

Kishida was also attending a U.S.-Japan-Philippines summit on Thursday in another effort to bolster regional cooperation in the face of China’s aggression.

Beijing has pushed back strongly on those actions during Kishida’s visit.

Mao Ning, the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said, “Despite China’s serious concerns, the U.S. and Japan attacked and smeared China on the Taiwan question and maritime issues, grossly interfered in China’s domestic affairs and violated the basic norms in international relations.”/ AP

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