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Top Japanese officials comment on launch of Biden administration  

All national dailies reported extensively on the inauguration of the Biden administration, focusing on comments made by senior Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Suga, who said at the parliament yesterday: “The peaceful transition of power is extremely important. I hope the American people will go forward in unity.” Suga also tweeted early this morning: “Congratulations to President @JoeBiden and Vice President @KamalaHaris on your inauguration. Japan and the United States are allies tied firmly by bonds and shared universal values… I look forward to working with you and your team to reinforce our alliance and to realize a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” 

 

Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato told the press on Wednesday: “The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of Japan’s foreign and security policy and constitutes a foundation for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the international community…. Support for the bilateral alliance is bipartisan in the U.S. Washington will continue to attach importance to Japan.”  The top government spokesman went on to say: “We would like to conduct close coordination with the new administration on common challenges facing the international community, such as the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific, the coronavirus pandemic, and climate change.”  

 

Mainichi wrote that the GOJ regards the Biden administration as being “pro-Japan” in view of the appointment of Kurt Campbell as the White House coordinator for Indo-Pacific and President Biden’s statement reaffirming the U.S. commitment to the defense of the Senkakus during a teleconference with Prime Minister Suga after his victory in the presidential election in November. The paper added, however, that it is uncertain whether the Biden administration will continue to attach importance to Japan. The daily expressed the view that unlike President Trump, who favored a bilateral approach, President Biden is inclined to pursue international coordination, and this could result in a decline in Japan’s presence on Washington’s radar. The paper speculated that the Biden administration’s top foreign policy priority is to improve ties with Europe, which were undermined by the Trump administration. Because President Biden prefers to take a “bottom-up” approach to decision-making by carefully listening to his advisers’ counsel, Mainichi said it will be critical for Japan to strengthen communications between MOFA and the State Department.  

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