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Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida poses with U.S President Joe Biden as they are on the way to state dinner in Washington DC, U.S, on April 10, 2024.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

Biden and Kishida bromance is meant to make Xi sweat

The White House showered Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida with gifts and honors during his state visit starting Wednesday, but the friendly display is aimed just as much at Beijing as it is Tokyo.

Kishida and Biden announced an upgrade to the longstanding US-Japan defense agreement on Wednesday that will make Japan’s military more agile by appointing a local US command and organizing a joint military-industrial production committee. The two will hold a trilateral meeting with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday to discuss further military cooperation.

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President Joe Biden Meets With Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC in January 2023.

Jim LoScalzo/POOL/CNP/startraksphoto.com/Cover Images

US and Japan will upgrade military ties

On April 10, US President Joe Biden and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will reportedly announce the most important upgrade in US-Japanese military relations since the 1960s. Many details remain TBD, but the change is expected to boost operational planning and exercises between the US military and Japanese Self-Defense Forces and possibly to give US forces stationed in Japan a more senior commander to make joint operations easier and more effective.
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Thick plates of steel for use in construction and ship building are hot-rolled by machinery at the Nippon Steel Corp. Kimitsu steel mill in Kimitsu, Japan near Tokyo February 6, 2008.

Biden slams Nippon Steel deal — but Tokyo plays it cool

US President Joe Biden on Thursday came out against Japan’s largest steel producer acquiring Pittsburgh-based US Steel, saying America must “maintain strong American steel companies powered by American steelworkers.”

Nippon Steel made an offer worth over $14 billion in December, and shortly afterward the White House indicated it would be scrutinized by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. For now, the deal is still on, but CFIUS review is usually reserved for deals involving companies from potential adversaries – not from trusted allies like Japan — and presidents rarely comment before the committee finishes.

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Would US-Japan ties be hurt by a Trump re-election?
Would US-Japan ties be hurt by a Trump re-election? | Emanuel Rahm | GZERO World

Would US-Japan ties be hurt by a Trump re-election?

Can one of the United States' closest allies count on it when the chips are down?

That question was up in the air during the four years of President Trump's administration. And now that the former President has a real chance of winning the White House in 2024 again, it's an urgent question again. And it's one that Ian Bremmer puts to the US Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, in the last episode of GZERO World.

In an exclusive interview in Tokyo, Bremmer and Emanuel discuss various topics, ranging from the crucial (but complicated) US-Japan relationship, the ever-present security threats China poses, and the raging conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.

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The complicated US-Japan relationship
The complicated US-Japan relationship | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

The complicated US-Japan relationship

The US-Japan alliance is complex. But among other priorities, to rein in China, both countries need each other.

If you know anything about Rahm Emanuel, it's that speaking diplomatically may not be his forte. And yet, his current post demands it. The former White House chief of staff (called, in his day, a "pitbull") and the polarizing mayor of Chicago now serves as the US ambassador to Japan, one of the US' closest allies. Ian Bremmer was in Tokyo for an exclusive interview with Emanuel. And though the ambassador did his best to remain "diplomatic," there were flashes of the "pitbull" as well.

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Podcast: Unpacking the complicated US-Japan relationship with Ambassador Rahm Emanuel

Ian Bremmer is in Tokyo, Japan, to check in on America’s “pivot to Asia.” How’s that going? Given that neither Ukraine nor Israel is located in the Asia Pacific, it is not so great!

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

Reuters

Biden brings South Korea and Japan together

Nestled in the woods of Maryland outside Washington, DC, the Camp David estate -- the president's country retreat -- looms large in international diplomacy as a place where serious business gets done.

On Friday, President Joe Biden will host South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a summit at the famous campsite where, in 1978, Jimmy Carter helped broker peace between Egypt and Israel.

While it might not seem like a big deal for Washington to facilitate a summit with America’s two closest Asian partners, it is monumental that South Korea, in particular, appears ready and willing to enlist in a new US-led trilateral alliance with Japan.

Despite a rapprochement, relations between the two East Asian giants have remained strained since Japan ended its 35-year occupation of the Korean peninsula in 1945.

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US President Joe Biden and Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida shake hands as they attend a bilateral meeting at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Mr. Kishida (finally) goes to Washington

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will meet with US President Joe Biden on Friday. Although they met on several occasions in 2022, including in Tokyo and in New York, this meeting will be Kishida’s first at the White House. Plans for a visit a year ago were derailed by the pandemic.

Kishida arrives at a moment of political weakness. After the assassination of former PM Shinzo Abe in July, Kishida has had to fend off domestic criticism of his decision to hold a state funeral for Abe, deal with public anger over the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s ties to the Unification Church (or the “Moonies”), and tame rising inflation. But he hasn’t had much success. His approval ratings began to nosedive in July and by year-end were at rock bottom for a Japanese prime minister, in the low 30s.

Kishida will probably enjoy being away from the full-contact sport of Japanese domestic politics during his trip and instead being back in the diplomatic limelight. He served as Abe’s foreign minister for nearly five years, so he is very comfortable in that more civilized milieu.

To get a preview of Kishida’s meeting with Biden, we had a chat with David Boling, Eurasia Group’s lead Japan analyst.

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