ID :
Fri, 04/12/2024 - 04:16
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Japan PM asks U.S. to take lead for global order in landmark speech

     WASHINGTON, April 11 Kyodo - Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized in a landmark speech to the U.S. Congress on Thursday that the leadership of the United States is "indispensable" for the international order that has been facing "new challenges," such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    In what was the first address made to the U.S. legislature by the Asian nation's premier in nine years, Kishida also said Tokyo and Washington "carry a large responsibility" in ensuring global peace and prosperity, adding, "The people of Japan are with you" and that the country is the U.S.'s "closest friend."

    Kishida's speech to the joint session of the Congress, delivered in English, comes as some Republicans have sought to prevent Democrats from backing President Joe Biden's efforts to expand foreign aid for Ukraine, which has been under invasion by Russia since February 2022.

    Japan, which held the presidency of the Group of Seven last year, has pledged to maintain its "unwavering" support for war-torn Ukraine in collaboration with the other member advanced economies including the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Italy.

    Addresses given by foreign dignitaries to joint sessions of the U.S. Congress have taken place on special occasions. During Barack Obama's presidency, Shinzo Abe, who was fatally shot in July 2022, became the first Japanese prime minister to make such a speech.

    In 2023, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol addressed the U.S. Congress, with Washington aiming to deepen relations with the two nations amid growing security threats from China and North Korea.

    Kishida made the speech, titled "For the Future: Our Global Partnership," amid China's increasing military assertiveness, North Korea's missile and nuclear development as well as Russia's war in Ukraine, which have been jeopardizing global peace and stability.

    "China's current external stance and military actions present an 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 said.

    "North Korea's provocations have impact beyond the region. It has also exported its ballistic missiles to support Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, greatly increasing the suffering of the Ukrainian people," he added.

    Touching on his decision to bolster its annual defense expenditure to around 2 percent of gross domestic product and to acquire enemy base strike capabilities, Kishida said, "Japan is already standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States."

    "Uncertainty about the future stability of the Indo-Pacific region caused us to change our policies and our very mindset. I myself have stood at the forefront in making our bilateral alliance even stronger," he added.

    Along with Japan, other democracies like South Korea, Australia, India and the Philippines have joined hands to establish a "multi-layered regional framework," where the alliance between Tokyo and Washington "serves as a force multiplier," Kishida said.

    Kishida stressed, "Here in this chamber, we should have strong bipartisan support for these efforts."

    On the economic front, Kishida said Japan is the biggest direct investor to the United States, as the Asian country's companies have invested about $800 billion and contributed to the creation of some one million jobs there.

    "A growth-oriented Japanese economy" should "spur even greater investment in the United States. And we can then help boost the global economy to steer it toward a strong growth trajectory in the years to come," Kishida said.