Biden, Suga to present united front on Taiwan

Yoshihide Suga says the country is doing everything possible to contain Covid-19 infections

Biden hosted Suga for talks that offered the Democratic president, inaugurated in January, a chance to work further on his pledge to revitalize USA alliances that frayed under his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.

Japan and its media have recently hyped up the matter amid the visit of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to the U.S.

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 Shinzo Abe as prime minister last September after long serving as his chief Cabinet secretary.

The White House also remained mum on whether Biden plans to attend the games.

"We committed to working together to take on the challenges from China and on issues like the East China Sea, the South China Sea, as well as North Korea, to ensure a future of a free and open Indo Pacific". An honour guard greeted his arrival at the White House.

The visit represented Biden's first in-person bilateral meeting since he was inaugurated in January.

"I refrain from mentioning details, since it pertains to diplomatic exchanges, but there is already an agreed recognition over the importance of peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait between Japan and the United States, which was reaffirmed on this occasion", Suga said. Earlier this week, the White House said Biden had yet to make a decision on whether to send US athletes to compete.

"The United States is Japan's best friend", Suga said in prepared remarks. "That includes making sure we invest in and protect technologies that will maintain and sharpen our competitive edge".

Psaki said the White House understands "the careful considerations" the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee are weighing as they prepare for the global sporting event.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China has expressed solemn concern about "collusion" between Japan and the United States, and the countries should take China's concerns seriously.

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Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden hold a joint news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, April 16, 2021.

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

In addition to Suga's meetings with Biden and other officials, he also met one-on-one with Vice President Harris earlier in the day.

On Friday morning, Suga participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. The United States has been more forceful than Japan in criticizing Beijing for human rights violations against the mostly Muslim Uyghurs of northwest China and democracy advocates in Hong Kong, reflecting Japan's reliance on good trading relations with China.

At a press conference in the Rose Garden after their meeting, Biden stressed US commitments to Japan's defence and said the alliance - the U.S.is Japan's only treaty ally - would "prove that democracies can still commit and win" and "deliver for our people". Japan is grappling with rising coronavirus infections with fewer than 100 days until the planned start.

Suga said he explained his determination to hold the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer, and gained Biden's support.

Although they didn't have a formal lunch or dinner as part of their meeting because of COVID-19 considerations, Biden and Suga had a private get-to-know-you session in the Oval Office before their business meeting, without most aides in the room.

"Freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are the universal values that link our alliance", Suga said.

The two will discuss other regional security issues, including North Korea's nuclear program.

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