Japan’s Kishida Urges US to Maintain Its ‘Pivotal Role’ in the World

T.J. Muscaro
By T.J. Muscaro
April 11, 2024Congress

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed a joint meeting of Congress during his visit to Washington on April 11. He shared his nation’s commitment to being the United States’s closest global partner and emphasized that America must retain its place as a champion of freedom and democracy worldwide.

“I want you to know how seriously Japan takes its role as the United States’s closest ally,” he said. “Together, we carry large responsibilities. I believe we are essential to peace, vital to freedom, and fundamental to prosperity.”

Mr. Kishida praised the United States for shaping the post-war world, championing freedom and democracy, working for “the stability and prosperity of nations like Japan,” and making “noble sacrifices to fulfill its commitment to a better world.”

However, the prime minister said the international order that the United States has spent generations building is facing new challenges and that the world is at an inflection point that will define the next stage of humanity. He also addressed what he perceived as “self-doubt” among Americans regarding the nation’s role.

Mr. Kishida addressed his nation’s position on various challenges that garnered bipartisan applause. He shared his nation’s continued commitment to Ukraine’s war against Russia, saying, “The Ukraine of today may be the East Asia of tomorrow.” He spoke about the need to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific with challenges imposed by communist China, as well as his work toward the vision of nuclear disarmament.

He also called out “new forms of oppression” that are being imposed on the world, such as “debt trap diplomacy.” He specifically mentioned censorship, monitoring, and control of social media, and told Congress he did not want to leave children “in a society where human rights are suppressed, where political self-determination is denied, where our lives are monitored by digital technology.”

“The United States’s policy was based on the premise that humanity does not want to live oppressed by an authoritarian state where you are tracked and surveilled and denied from expressing what is in your heart and on your mind,” he said. “You believe that freedom is the oxygen of humanity.

“The world needs the United States to continue playing this pivotal role in the affairs of nations.”

However, Mr. Kishida also said he wanted Americans to know that Japan would be by their side in these continued efforts, and mentioned through his speech his nation’s work with NATO, the Group of Seven, and multi-lateral cooperations with Indo-Pacific nations like Australia, the Philippines, India, and its still-newfound friendship with the Republic of Korea.

The prime minister also touched on the personal and economic connection between the United States and Japan. He reflected on his childhood spent living in Queens and echoed his commitment to provide 250 new cherry trees to Washington in honor of the upcoming 250th anniversary of America’s independence.

He also reiterated the financial investments made, creating nearly 1 million American jobs, and the emerging partnerships to lead the world in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum conductors, biotechnology, and clean energy. He also praised his country’s partnership in space exploration, reiterating that a Japanese national will be the first non-American to set foot on the moon via NASA’s Artemis program.

Mr. Kishida became the first Japanese prime minister to speak before the Senate and House of Representatives since his predecessor, the late Shinzo Abe, gave a speech titled “Toward an Alliance of Hope.”

According to the U.S. Senate, joint sessions are more formal and are typically held to hear an address from the president or count electoral votes while joint meetings are held to hear an address from a foreign dignitary or visitor other than the president.

Japan Is ‘Critically Important’

After the speech, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said that Mr. Kishida described “powerfully that we stand together and that the world order as we know it and the preservation of freedom depends on strong allies with American leadership.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) complimented the prime minister’s speech, calling it a “terrific, very nice job,” and said that Japan is “critically important” from a national security and economic standpoint.

Legislative leaders released a joint statement last month expressing their enthusiasm for the visit, stating Mr. Kishida’s visit “symbolizes both nations’ commitment to peace and prosperity and to an international community that promotes democracy, security, and stability.” Both House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) emphasized the importance of the United States to continue to speak out against tyranny and authoritarian regimes around the world.

“The U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, signed more than 60 years ago, still serves as a shining example of international cooperation and diplomacy,” Mr. Johnson said. “We are stronger together, and our alliance is a cornerstone of stability and security for both our nations and the world.”

“I am honored to join my colleagues in inviting Prime Minister Kishida to speak before the United States Congress in his first ever Joint Address,” Mr. Schumer said. “Japan is a close ally—critical to both our national and economic security. This visit will continue to deepen the diplomatic and security relationship between our two countries and build on the strength of decades of cooperation.”

Mr. Kishida’s speech in front of the joint meeting of Congress comes the day after he and President Joe Biden held a bilateral summit that resulted in an ambitious military and economic upgrade to the strong alliance.

Later today, he will participate in the first-ever trilateral summit with President Biden and Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

From The Epoch Times

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