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Japan, U.S. arranging Suga-Biden Washington summit on April 9: source

TOKYO — Japan and the United States are arranging for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and President Joe Biden to hold their summit in Washington on April 9, a government source said Tuesday.


It will be Biden’s first in-person meeting with a foreign leader since taking office in January, with the two likely to discuss human rights issues in China and ways to counter the Asian power’s growing maritime assertiveness, as well as efforts to denuclearize North Korea.


Suga is expected to depart Tokyo on April 8 and return on April 11, the source said. The prime minister has already had his first shot of Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for the trip and is set to receive the second next week.


The meeting comes as the Biden administration ramps up criticism of China’s treatment of the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region and actions concerning Hong Kong and Taiwan, and as the United States seeks to rally allies in efforts to realize a “free and open Indo-Pacific” region.


According to different government sources, Suga and Biden are expected to affirm the Senkaku Islands, a source of tension between Tokyo and Beijing, fall under the scope of Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty.


The Japan-controlled uninhabited islands in the East China Sea are claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.


Article 5 states the United States will defend territories under Japan’s administration from armed attack.


Suga and Biden are also set to condemn North Korea’s test-firing of two ballistic missiles last week in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and call for its complete denuclearization in a joint statement after the meeting, the sources said.

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