"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Joint Press Conference by Prime Minister Suga and President Biden of the United States

[Date] April 16, 2021
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional Translation
[Full text]

[Opening Statement by Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide]

It is truly a pleasure for me to have made this visit here to Washington, D.C. a reality. I wish to thank President Biden and Vice President Harris sincerely for the warm welcome they have given me. I also want to extend my thanks to everyone involved in the U.S. government who worked so hard preparing for my visit.

The United States of America is Japan's best friend, and Japan and the U.S. are allies that share universal values, including freedom, democracy, and human rights. While the Japan-U.S. alliance has been playing a role as the cornerstone of peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the world, against the backdrop of the current regional situation and severe security environment, the importance of our alliance has surpassed anything seen before.

It was through this common understanding that we enjoyed a wide-ranging and frank exchange of views during today's summit meetings, regarding our political beliefs, the domestic issues confronting each of our countries, the shared vision held by Japan and the U.S., and more.

I reconfirmed with President Biden the understanding that was agreed at last month's Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2+2 Meeting) and based on that, we agreed to make further efforts for the benefit of the region. We also discussed a "free and open Indo-Pacific." We concurred that in order to ensure the peace and prosperity of this region, Japan and the U.S. will take the lead in making this vision concrete and also advance cooperation with other countries and regions, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia, and India.

In addition, we held serious discussions on the influence China imparts upon the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and the world as a whole. We also agreed to oppose any attempts to change the status quo by force in the East China Sea and South China Sea, as well as any coercion against other entities in the region. Beyond that, we were also of the same mind that it is imperative for Japan and the U.S. to engage in frank dialogue with China, and that when doing so, we must pursue stability in international relations while defending universal values.

Regarding North Korea, we were in agreement on our commitment to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges, as well as to strongly urging North Korea to comply with its obligations under the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. We reconfirmed that the abductions issue is a grave human rights issue and that Japan and the U.S. will act in cooperation to urge North Korea to resolve the matter immediately.

Moreover, we shared the understanding that trilateral cooperation among Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea has become more important than ever before, for responding to North Korea and for the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region; accordingly, we confirmed that we will promote such cooperation.

Given the increasingly severe regional security environment, it is critical that we reinforce the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance going forward. I expressed my resolve to expand Japan's defense capabilities, and President Biden once again indicated the U.S.'s commitment to Japan's defense, including the application of Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty to the Senkaku Islands.

We also reaffirmed we will accelerate our consideration of the concrete means for reinforcing our alliance. At the same time, from the perspective of mitigating the impact on local communities including Okinawa, we agreed to steadily implement the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, including the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko as the only solution that avoids its continued use.

As we respond to COVID-19, climate change, and other unprecedented crises currently facing the international community, our two countries are mutually indispensable partners. I affirmed with President Biden that our two countries have great responsibility for leading multilateral efforts to resolve these issues. Beyond that, we agreed to demonstrate joint leadership towards greater recovery by the international community while upholding the international order based on multilateralism and the rule of law.

Grounded in these outcomes of our meetings, today we agreed the U.S.-Japan Joint Leaders' Statement "U.S.-Japan Global Partnership for a New Era." This statement will serve as a compass for the Japan-U.S. alliance in the future and it indicates powerfully Japan-U.S. unity towards realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

In addition, from the viewpoint of Japan and the U.S. leading "Build Back Better" in the world, President Biden and I agreed on the U.S.-Japan Competitiveness and Resilience (CoRe) Partnership, and shared the view to promoting competitiveness and innovation in digital and science and technology sectors, which both counties hold in common as priority areas, and advance cooperation in COVID-19 response, green growth, and climate change, among other fields.

As for competitiveness and innovation, under our recognition that in particular the digital economy and emerging technologies transform societies and bring about tremendous economic opportunities, we see eye to eye that Japan and the U.S. will act in cooperation to promote research and development across a range of fields, including digital endeavors.

Regarding COVID-19 response, we will work to promote multilayered cooperation spanning from short-term responses to long-term efforts in preparation for future similar scenarios. We affirmed that our governments will continue to collaborate with each other to strengthen public-private cooperation between Japan and the United States in both overall vaccine supply and the field of global health. We will promote multilateral and regional cooperation, particularly from the standpoint of fair access to vaccines, including for developing countries.

In the area of climate change, we confirmed that Japan and the U.S. will lead global decarbonization in working towards the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) and beyond, including the Leaders Summit on Climate to be hosted by the United States scheduled for next week. Moreover, to further strengthen our cooperation in the areas of implementation of the Paris Agreement, clean energy technology, and a transition to decarbonization in developing countries, President Biden and I also agreed to launch the U.S.-Japan Climate Partnership regarding decarbonization and clean energy.

Through these initiatives, we will provide momentum to concrete, comprehensive cooperation by Japan and the United States.

I also discussed with President Biden the rise in the number of incidents of discrimination or violence against Asian residents in numerous places in the U.S. We share the view that discrimination based on race or other factors must not be tolerated in any society. I was greatly reassured by President Biden's statement condemning and resolutely opposing discrimination and violence, and I redoubled my faith in U.S. democracy.

In addition, I conveyed my determination to realize the holding of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer as a symbol of global solidarity. President Biden responded by once again expressing his support for my resolve on this matter. Japan will take all possible measures to counter infections, incorporating the views of the World Health Organization (WHO) and experts, resolutely moving forward with preparations in order to bring about safe and secure Games from a scientific, objective perspective.

Freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law -- as we firmly defend these universal values that Japan and the United States hold in common, I look forward to transitioning into implementing the outcomes of today's meaningful talks. I am also very eager to deepen my collaboration and cooperation with Joe as we work to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

I would like to express once more my heartfelt appreciation for the kind invitation for this visit. Thank you very much.