Photo/Illutration Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meets with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on Jan. 13. (Sayuri Ide)

WASHINGTON--President Joe Biden was effusive in his praise of Tokyo’s decision to drastically beef up its defensive posture while pledging continued unwavering support to the defense of Japan during a visit here by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

It was Kishida’s first visit to the White House for a meeting with Biden. The last time the two leaders met was in November in Phnom Penh on the sidelines of an international conference.

During the Jan. 13 meeting, Kishida explained his Cabinet’s approval in December of three defense-related documents that will allow Japan to possess the capability to strike at enemy bases preparing to stage a missile attack on Japan as well as plans for a massive defense buildup over five years that will include acquiring Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States.

At the start of the meeting, Biden said, “We’re modernizing our military alliance, building on Japan’s historic increase in defense spending and new National Security Strategy.”

Kishida, in turn, said, “By laying out a fundamental strengthening of our defense capabilities, including the counterstrike one, and displaying a policy of expanding spending, we will be able to increase the Japan-U.S. alliance’s deterrence and response capability.”

Kishida and Biden issued a joint statement that criticized the recent actions of Russia, China and North Korea.

The statement said, “We strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion, anywhere in the world.”

It reiterated the “the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

The three documents approved by Japan in December will “bolster security across the Indo-Pacific and beyond and modernize the U.S.-Japan relationship for the 21st century,” the statement said.

The two leaders also “instructed their ministers to reinforce cooperation on the development and effective employment of Japan’s counterstrike and other capabilities,” the statement said.

Biden again stressed the unwavering commitment of the United States to the defense of Japan under Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, using its full range of capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

The two leaders also confirmed that Article 5 covers the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The two leaders also discussed economic issues and ways to protect and further foster important technologies. Areas of related discussion involved semiconductors, cooperation in space development through the new bilateral Space Framework Agreement and work in clean energy, including deepened cooperation on nuclear energy.

According to Japanese government officials who briefed reporters after the meeting, the two leaders also talked about the Group of Seven summit meeting scheduled for May in Hiroshima, Kishida’s home district.

“As the prime minister of Japan, which is the only nation to have atomic bombs dropped on it during war, I want to, along with the other G-7 leaders, including President Biden, send a message from Hiroshima directed at the world pledging that mankind will never again face a tragedy created by nuclear weapons,” Kishida said.

The two leaders also agreed to work together in moving toward a world without nuclear weapons, despite heightened international tensions over, among other things, the war in Ukraine, Chinas growing assertiveness and North Koreas continued grandstanding.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Kishida said, “I have further deepened my personal relationship of trust with President Biden and I feel confident the meeting will serve as an important step toward further strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance.”

(This article was written by Taro Kotegawa, Nobuhiko Tajima and Ryo Kiyomiya.)