New Japanese PM Has First Calls With American, Australian Leaders

By Frank Yue
Frank Yue
Frank Yue
Frank Yue is a Canada-based journalist for The Epoch Times who covers China-related news. He also holds an M.A. in English language and literature from Tianjin Foreign Studies University, China.
October 7, 2021 Updated: October 7, 2021

Fumio Kishida, Japan’s new prime minister, made his first calls with heads of the United States and Australia on Oct. 5. Experts say he will continue a pro-U.S. and anti-China approach during his tenure.

Kishida had a roughly 20-minute conversation with President Joe Biden, the first with a foreign leader since taking office one day before.

“We confirmed that we would work together toward the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. alliance and free and open Indo-Pacific,” Kishida told reporters. “We also confirmed we would work closely on issues related to China and North Korea.”

He said Biden reaffirmed U.S. commitment to defending Japan, including Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan security treaty, which provided defense obligations to the Asian nation. The article applies to the Senkaku Islands, which China also claims, calling them the Diaoyu Islands.

On Oct. 4, Biden sent Kishida a congratulatory message, on his election by parliament, calling the U.S.-Japan Alliance the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world.

Kishida also spoke with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Oct. 5 and welcomed the creation of AUKUS, a new security cooperation framework that includes Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Both leaders expressed opposition to economic coercion as well as unilateral attempts to alter the status quo in the East and South China seas.

Vice-chairman of the Taiwan Society of Japan Studies, Wen-Chia Chen, told The Epoch Times that Kishida would continue the pro-U.S., pro-Taiwan, and anti-China and strategy that had been followed during the Shinzo Abe era.

Chen said the new prime minister would cement ties with the United States and be tougher on issues of national security involving China, which matched the anti-CCP sentiment popular with Japanese civilians and the Liberal Democratic Party.

Kishida previously expressed “deep alarm” on Sept. 5 at Beijing’s aggressive behavior at diplomatic and economic levels in an interview with Tokyo-based Nikkei Asia. The then would-be PM made it clear that countering the Chinese regime would be a top priority for his government if he succeeded in Japan’s leadership election.

On the other hand, Chen said Kishida would have to be flexible in dealing with foreign nations as he pushed for his “Reiwa income-doubling plan.” Reiwa is the current era of the Japanese calendar. Chen warned he would take into account the issues of the Chinese market and North Korea’s nuclear weapons, among other issues.

Yujen Kuo, executive director of Taiwan-based Institute for National Policy Research, expressed similar opinions on foreign policy in a Sept. 29 interview with The Epoch Times.

Kuo said Kishida would support Taiwan to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and other international organizations.

So far, Kishida has expressed skepticism about China’s suitability to join the CPTPP trade pact at his first press conference on Oct. 4.

“We need to look at whether China can meet the high standards required by the trade pact,” he said. “It’s still unclear if it can.”

Frank Yue
Frank Yue is a Canada-based journalist for The Epoch Times who covers China-related news. He also holds an M.A. in English language and literature from Tianjin Foreign Studies University, China.