WASHINGTON — The White House on Jan. 27 issued a readout of President Joe Biden’s phone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga that day.
Biden, who took office on Jan. 20, is in the process of contacting world leaders, from allies like Canada’s Justin Trudeau to adversaries like Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan to discuss the policy issues and global challenges that Japan and the United States will face together,” the White House said. “They discussed the U.S.-Japan alliance and affirmed its importance as the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“The leaders also discussed the United States’ unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan under Article 5 of our security treaty, which includes the Senkaku Islands.
“President Biden reaffirmed to the prime minister his commitment to provide extended deterrence to Japan. They discussed regional security issues, including China and North Korea. They together affirmed the necessity of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and the early resolution of the abductions issue.
“They committed to working together on our response to curb the global COVID-19 pandemic, address climate change, and advance our shared values, global security and prosperity.”
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, during his final weeks in office, awarded the Legion of Merit to Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, for his “leadership and vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the U.S. government said Dec. 21. Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Shinsuke Sugiyama accepted the medal on Abe’s behalf.
The medal was also presented to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the National Security Council said on Twitter.
The U.S., Australia, India and Japan had been working together toward a “free and open Indo-Pacific” by holding meetings under the “Quad” framework, a grouping that the Trump Administration viewed as helpful to counter China’s growing clout in the region.
The Legion of Merit is given to uniformed U.S. military service members and military and political figures of foreign governments for outstanding service and achievements.