All national papers wrote on Saturday that the GOJ is extremely pleased that Prime Minister Suga is likely to be the first foreign dignitary to be hosted by President Biden, quoting Foreign Minister Motegi as saying: “It represents the U.S. administration’s strong commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance.” An unnamed Japanese diplomat reportedly said, “The invitation was a result of Tokyo’s intense efforts to obtain Washington’s understanding of Japan’s importance” in reining in China. According to Yomiuri, LDP officials are hoping that what they referred to as the U.S. leader’s “special treatment” of the premier will help shore up public approval of the Suga cabinet, which has plunged amid the coronavirus resurgence and the scandal involving telecommunications ministry officials who were entertained by NTT and the broadcasting company where Suga’s son works.
Yomiuri predicted that Japan will need to present concrete measures for countering China in response to Washington’s strengthened commitment to the peace and stability of the region. The daily said some GOJ officials are worried that the Suga administration may not be able to live up to Washington’s high expectations for Japan to take on more security responsibilities because Suga appears to be less interested in foreign and security affairs than former Prime Minister Abe. As an example, the paper cited Suga’s failure to heed his predecessor’s call for speedy discussions on allowing the SDF to possess capabilities to strike enemy bases.