Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made clear in virtual talks with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday that his country “would be fully behind the United States” to deter Russian aggression against Ukraine, a senior administration official said.
The two leaders discussed the growing tensions caused by Russia’s amassing tens of thousands of troops along its border with Ukraine, according to the official.
In a statement released by the White House, the official said that Kishida pledged to continue close coordination with the United States, other allies and partners, and the international community on taking strong action in response to any attack.
“We did not get into the specifics about possible steps that would be taken in the event that we see these actions transpire,” the official said, adding that both leaders would be in close consultation on the matter.
The 80-minute discussion also touched on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province, and the situation in Hong Kong, where the CCP is accused of repressing democracy.
Biden and Kishida underscored the importance of stability in the Taiwan Strait, where tensions between the self-ruled island of Taiwan and China have been rising. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and vows to take the island under its control by force if necessary.
The two leaders vowed to “push back” against China’s attempts to alter the status quo in the South China Sea, where China has been ramping up military presence, and the East China Sea—particularly the disputed Senkaku Islands—the White House said in a statement.
The Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea have mostly been administered by Japan since 1895, but Beijing began asserting its rights over the islands in the 1970s. In China, the islands are called the Diaoyu Islands.
The White House noted that Biden “affirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan, using its full range of capabilities,” including the application of the 1960 Japan-U.S. security treaty.
Following North Korea’s recent launches of ballistic missiles, the two leaders condemned Pyongyang’s actions as in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and committed to maintaining close coordination on the issue, including with South Korea.
North Korea on Thursday said that it would seek to immediately develop “more powerful physical means” to overpower the “intensifying hostile moves of the United States,” after the Biden administration imposed its first sanctions over Pyongyang’s weapons programs.
When asked about Pyongyang’s statement, the official said that the United States had sent “a very clear message to North Korea” in an effort to dissuade North Korea from taking “further provocative steps.”
“The United States and South Korea remain open to diplomacy. But such a set of steps would be most unwelcome, particularly at this delicate time in Northeast Asia, and globally more generally,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Biden accepted Kishida’s invitation to visit Japan later this spring for an official visit and to attend this year’s Quad Summit, the meeting held between the leaders of Japan, the United States, Australia, and India.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.