The Saturday editions of all national dailies reported on the GOJ announcement on Friday that Prime Minister Suga will visit the United States for talks with President Biden in the first half of April, projecting that China’s rise will be the main topic of discussion. In what will be the new U.S. leader’s first in-person summit since taking office, Suga is hoping to confirm bilateral partnership toward realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific. The two leaders are also expected to exchange views on a decarbonized society ahead of the climate change summit that the President plans to host on April 22. Sunday’s Yomiuri speculated that the U.S.-Japan summit will likely be held in Washington on April 9. As the visit will take place during the coronavirus pandemic, Suga’s activities will be kept to a minimum and the number of people in his delegation will be limited. Foreign Minister Motegi is unlikely to accompany him. Suga and his entourage of 80 to 90 GOJ officials are likely to receive their first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine soon so they will be fully inoculated ahead of their departure.
Noting that Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin will soon visit Japan for their first foreign tour and President Biden just held a videoconference with the leaders of Japan, Australia, and India, the papers said these moves reflect Washington’s growing expectation for Japan to play a greater role in curbing the rapid rise of China. Yomiuri opined that the U.S. leader is determined to prevail in what he describes as “the long-term strategic competition with China” by enhancing cooperation with Japan. The daily also claimed that White House Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell was instrumental in arranging Suga’s U.S. trip and securing India’s participation in the first-ever Quad online summit by formulating a COVID-19 immunization program for Asia and Africa using Indian vaccines.