Biden Arrives in Japan to Meet with G-7 Leaders Amid Looming Debt Crisis at Home

HIROSHIMA, Japan—President Joe Biden arrived in Japan on Thursday to attend the three-day G-7 summit of the world’s top economic powers, leaving behind an intense debt ceiling negotiation with congressional leaders.

Biden arrived in Hiroshima around 5 p.m. local time, where the Group of Seven (G-7) leaders will meet from May 19–21 to discuss a wide range of issues, including the conflict in Ukraine and China’s threats against Taiwan, as well as economic security.

The G-7 summit comes at a challenging time for Biden, as he faces a potential crisis at home if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling to avert a default by the so-called “x-date,” which could be reached as early as June.

Before his departure, Biden expressed confidence that the months-long impasse between the White House and House Republicans over raising the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling would soon be resolved.

“I’m confident that we’ll get the agreement on the budget, that America will not default. And every leader in the room understands the consequences if we fail to pay our bills,” Biden told reporters on May 17.

The president’s travel schedule has been shortened so he can return to Washington earlier than planned to continue debt ceiling negotiations with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Biden’s side trips to Australia and Papua New Guinea have been postponed.

Biden landed in Iwakuni first to greet troops at a U.S. Marine Corps air station in Japan before heading to Hiroshima.

On Thursday evening, Biden will participate in a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio to discuss military and economic cooperation between the two countries. And on Friday, the president will attend the summit along with leaders from France, the UK, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine looms large and will be a significant topic of conversation,” according to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan who briefed reporters on the way to Japan about the summit’s agenda.

He said that the G-7 leaders will discuss sanctions against Russia and how to shut down evasion networks and close loopholes in sanctions to maximize their impact in the months ahead. The United States will impose sanctions in conjunction with a G-7 statement addressing the issue of enforcement, he added.

The leaders will have a busy agenda, according to Sullivan. Supply chains, clean energy, and artificial intelligence will be some of the key topics of discussion.

This year’s summit is expected to highlight Hiroshima’s history as the site of the world’s deadliest military operation and aims to convey a “strong message” about the dangers of nuclear weapons to the rest of the world, notably Russia.

Another key focus of this year’s summit is “Outreach to the Global South,” which intends to increase G-7 countries’ outreach to Latin America, Africa, the rest of Asia, and the Pacific to counter China’s growing influence in these regions.

“The common concerns and issues associated with the policies and practices of the People’s Republic of China will come up,” Sullivan said. “Of course, each country has its own distinct relationship and its own distinct approach, but those relationships and approaches are built on a common basis. And I think you will see that reflected in the outcomes of the G-7.”

On the first day of the summit, Biden and other G-7 leaders will visit Peace Memorial Park and meet with the survivors of the atomic bomb that leveled the city on Aug. 6, 1945.

When asked if the president intends to issue an apology on behalf of the United States for the use of the atomic bomb 78 years ago, Sullivan said that the president will not make any statement.

“The president won’t be making a statement at the Peace Memorial Park. He’ll be participating with the other G-7 leaders in a wreath-laying and a few other events,” Sullivan explained. “This is him, as one of the G-7 leaders, coming to pay respects both for history but also respects to Prime Minister Kishida, who of course is from Hiroshima.”

The summit is expected to be a critical test of Japan’s global influence, and Kishida chose Hiroshima as the G-7 venue as a symbolic opportunity to show Tokyo’s commitment to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

From The Epoch Times

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