PM Kishida Confirms Presence at NATO Summit; Advocates for Sustained Conversations with China

On Wednesday, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida communicated his intention to attend the upcoming NATO summit, slated to be held in Lithuania in the coming month. This move comes at a time when Japan is amplifying its association with the Western alliance, given the escalating military assertiveness of China.

Kishida underscored the necessity of maintaining dialogues with China to foster a “constructive and stable” rapport, while concurrently collaborating with the United States, Japan’s principal ally. He further highlighted the crucial role of US-China relations in maintaining global peace and equilibrium.

Speaking at a press conference marking the culmination of a parliamentary session spanning five months, Kishida placed the bolstering of diplomatic and security measures high on his policy priority list for the first half of the year. The ultimate aim, he said, is to enhance Japan’s global prominence and secure national peace and the wellbeing of its citizens.

Japan’s strengthening bond with NATO is driven by the ongoing Ukraine conflict and apprehensions that China’s military assertiveness in East Asia might gain further momentum.

Kishida confirmed his participation in the NATO summit scheduled for July 11-12 in Lithuania, facilitated by an invitation from the organization. He also intends to pay a visit to NATO headquarters in Belgium. Additionally, plans are afoot to inaugurate a NATO office in Japan.

Kishida painted a grim picture of the global security situation, terming it as the “most severe and complex” since the end of World War II. He pledged to employ diplomatic instruments fully to contribute to global peace and stability while safeguarding Japan’s national interests.

Kishida further emphasized Japan’s commitment to collaborate with the United States on its China policy, urging Beijing to live up to its responsibilities as a global power by adhering to international rules and order.

Japan’s growing anxiety stems from China’s forceful activities in the region, especially around the disputed East China Sea islands, claimed by both Japan and China.

Asserting the significance of sustained high-level dialogues, including his potential visit to China, Kishida commented, “It is important to continue making an effort to have close dialogue at all levels, including myself, and in that process, I will consider my possible visit to China, though nothing has been decided right now.”

Kishida’s remarks followed the meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing earlier this week. While the two parties agreed to stabilize their strained ties, discussions fell short of restoring military-to-military contacts aimed at preventing incidents and conflicts over Taiwan.

Kishida also advocated for dialogues with North Korea and reiterated his dedication to resolving the longstanding issue of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang. As the family members of the abductees age, addressing this issue has emerged as a pressing human rights concern, said Kishida.

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