11:36 A.M. EST
MODERATOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us. This is a background call to read out the President’s meeting with Prime Minister Kishida of Japan. As a reminder, this call is on background, and it is attributable to “senior administration official.” And the contents of the call are embargoed until the conclusion of the call.
For your awareness but not for reporting, our speaker on the call today is [senior administration official].
With that, I’ll turn it over to you for some opening remarks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you very much. And thank you all for joining us today. Again, I’m [redacted], but you’ve already heard how the meeting will be described.
So, let me just say that we just concluded, a little while ago, a 90 — yes, we just concluded a 90-minute session — a virtual session between Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden.
This was their second meeting. They had a session in Glasgow during COP26 and agreed they looked forward to a meeting in — early in the new year. I think the hope was, obviously, to do this in person, but given the COVID circumstances both in the United States and Japan, agreed it was important to do this virtually.
I think I would describe — I’ll just — we’ve already put out a readout but I’ll give you a little bit of the highlights and then happy to take questions.
I think it — just at a general level, the discussion was exceptionally broad, very warm, and wide-ranging. And I think it was clear — we had a substantial group with the President in the Situation Room, including Deputy Secretary Sherman; Secretary Raimondo; National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan; our outgoing ambassador to Japan who will be leaving tomorrow, Rahm Emanuel, who was celebrated and joked about during the session; and then myself and a few others — Dan Kritenbrink from the State Department and Chris Johnstone from the National Security Council.
I think what was clear is that the — sort of the solidarity and the close alignment between the United States and Japan was really on full display.
So, very broad discussion on security, on views about the challenges in the Indo-Pacific.
And I think they were in very close alignment on the challenges that Russia is presenting to Ukraine. I think Japan — the Prime Minister complimented the President on his handling and made clear that Japan would be fully behind the United States in the challenging days ahead.
Very in-depth discussion on sharing perspectives on China, a desire to promote and defend a free and open Indo-Pacific, concerns about some of the steps that China had taken across the board in terms of intimidating neighbors, taking steps that were predatory, and trade — and other (inaudible) particularly concerned about the nuclear buildup in China and what that augured for regional security more generally.
Discussions about the importance of mutual commitments to support regional security and architecture.
The Prime Minister complimented President Biden on his role in convening the Quad — two meetings of the Quad last year — and also AUKUS. The President thanked the Prime Minister for his support and indicated much more to come.
Prime Minister Kishida invited President Biden to come for an official visit to Japan and, at the same time, his intention to host a Quad meeting in late spring. I think President Biden graciously accepted that invitation.
The Prime Minister laid out a number of things to illuminate his goals and objectives as Prime Minister. I think they spent quite a bit of time talking about their respective views, which were very much in alignment with respect to a desire to revitalize their societies from the working people, middle class out, underscoring the importance in investment in education. A lot of harmony in those interactions.
Prime Minister Kishida also indicated that the security environment in Northeast Asia demanded that Japan step up, and he indicated that he had increased in the supplemental budget defense and security spending by 8 percent. It’s unprecedented. With respect to Japan, President Biden welcomed that and supported it more generally.
The two leaders also announced the inauguration of a new economic forum, the so-called 2+2, that will include Secretary Blinken and the Secretary of Commerce, with the express intention to focus on new areas of technology and supply chains; an agreement that a close partnership between Japan and the United States was going to be essential going forward across the board, whether it’s in semiconductors or in energy.
Lots of discussion about green innovation and the need to continue to push forward on initiatives announced at COP26 more generally. Close coordination and cooperation on COVID more generally.
And I think, you know, the President was quite gratified that Prime Minister Kishida was so clear and firm in his resolve to support the United States as we engage in the challenges currently with respect to Russia more generally.
If I could say, guys, just, I think, the importance of the call. Obviously, lots of focus right now both on domestic policy in the United States. The President underscored to Prime Minister Kishida that as he was concluding this meeting, he was going to go into another meeting with senators and congressmen to talk about the importance of the CHIP Act and moving ahead on investment and technology in the United States, but also challenges in Central Europe right now.
At the same time, the President wanted it to be known clearly that he was going to continue to step up our game in the Indo-Pacific, across the board on issues ranging from diplomacy to military security, and also to trade.
The two leaders had a robust discussion about the importance of the United States playing an active role in the trade and commercial architecture of Asia. And the President engaged actively on those issues.
So I think it was a very valuable meeting of the minds. I think both leaders came away wanting more discussion. I think the President, at the end of the session with Prime Minister Kishida, said, “This meeting has made me even more optimistic and hopeful about our relationship with Japan and what we can accomplish going forward.”
There’s much more to discuss, but I think that’s a good, sort of, down payment on the initial issues. I’m happy to take any questions, and we’ll take it from there.