Senior Japanese and U.S. diplomats agreed on Monday to aim for an early visit to the United States by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a meeting with President Joe Biden, with Tokyo eyeing a November date for the trip, according to Japanese government sources.
Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori reached the agreement during a meeting in Tokyo with Daniel Kritenbrink, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, the sources said.
In a separate meeting, Kritenbrink and Keiichi Ichikawa, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's North American Affairs Bureau, discussed ways to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific in a veiled counter to China's attempts to alter the regional status quo with coercive measures.
They also exchanged views on a so-called two-plus-two meeting involving the two allies' defense and foreign ministers, with the next round of the talks expected to be held by the end of the year.
Kritenbrink had a separate meeting with Takehiro Funakoshi, head of the Japanese ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, at which they affirmed cooperation in addressing the issues of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
A former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, Kritenbrink has served as senior adviser for North Korea policy at the State Department, senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, as well as postings to the U.S. embassies in Tokyo and Beijing.
Kritenbrink arrived in Tokyo Sunday on his first trip to Japan since becoming the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia in late September. He plans to stay in Japan through Wednesday before making a three-day trip to Seoul, according to the U.S. government.