In their first in-person meeting under the new U.S. administration, President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday agreed to further their cooperation across regional security, tech and other areas, committing to an alliance that will face up to the challenges posed by China.
The allies also affirmed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait in their joint statement, a reference that is sure to upset Beijing, which is pointedly conducting “combat drills” near the island — including moves supposed to prevent foreign forces from coming to Taipei’s aid in a war.
But while talk is cheap, the decades-old Japan-U.S. alliance will need a major overhaul if it is to meet the rising threats and challenges posed by Beijing, in areas ranging from Taiwan and human rights to trade, Kyodo reports.
While Taiwan welcomed the allies’ comments — the first time the two nations have mentioned the island in such a statement since 1969 — Japan’s plan to release radioactive water into the sea has put Taipei in a bind, caught between standing up for its fishing industry and avoiding a row with Tokyo.
On Saturday, South Korea’s foreign minister also expressed concern over Japan’s decision to release water from the disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific, and called for Washington to back South Korean calls for more transparency and info — something the U.S. has notably not done.
Finally, one group likely relishing a return to relative normalcy under Biden are those tasked with translating the leaders’ meet into Japanese, considering some of them reported having trouble dealing with Trumpian English. Eric Margolis looks at some translated “Bidenese” for some insights into the man, his lingo and the Japanese language.