The Big Ideas

'Japan’s Suga to Be the First Foreign Leader to Meet With Biden'
'Japan’s Suga to Be the First Foreign Leader to Meet With Biden'
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Japan

April 2, 2021
BIG IDEA | ‘Japan walks a narrow line as it seeks to maintain close ties with its only military ally, the U.S., while avoiding damage to economic ties with its biggest trade partner, China.

‘Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will become the first foreign leader to hold a face-to-face meeting with President Joe Biden in a summit planned for April 16, where China will be high on the agenda.

  • ‘The timing of the summit with the U.S.’s most powerful ally in Asia underscores the Biden administration’s focus on shoring up ties with partners in the region, as it tries to pressure China over everything from human rights to trade and the global coronavirus vaccine rollout.
  • ‘Japan walks a narrow line as it seeks to maintain close ties with its only military ally, the U.S., while avoiding damage to economic ties with its biggest trade partner, China.

‘Secretary of State Antony Blinken chose Japan, followed by South Korea, as the destinations for his first overseas trip in office, which took place last month.

  • ‘In a joint statement, Blinken, his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi, and the two countries’ defense ministers made unusually explicit references to China’s “coercion and destabilizing behavior” and to concerns over human rights.

‘That followed a virtual summit between the so-called Quad of U.S., Japan, India and Australia, which was met with criticism from China.