Suga says Biden supports Tokyo Olympics but attendance uncertain

Clay Curtis
April 17, 2021

The discussions on Taiwan, as well as concerns about China's treatment of Hong Kong and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, are expected to be "in line with the kinds of dialogue and discussion seen between the US and Japan in recent times", the official said.

Japan and the United States had serious talks about China's influence in the Indo-Pacific region, and both countries agreed to oppose any attempt to change the status quo by force in the East and the South China Seas, said Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday.

Suga emphasized the importance of the trilateral relationship between the U.S., Japan and South Korea to manage North Korea, which has engaged in new missile launches in recent weeks and has not responded to outreach from the Biden administration.

Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang belong to "China's internal affairs", the statement said. It reiterated that these matters are China's fundamental interests that allow no intervention.

"Both leaders expressed their pride in the USA and Japanese athletes who have trained for these Games and will be competing in the best traditions of the Olympic spirit", the statement said.

Harris welcomed the Prime Minister of Japan and said this is the first visit to the United States of a world leader since President Joe Biden and she assumed office in January. "The scheme of the US and Japan goes against the trend of the times and the will of people in the region". The islets, known as Diaoyu in China, are administered by Japan but also claimed by China, which has frequently sent vessels into nearby waters.

Suga said in March that he plans to invite Biden to the Olympics, due to open on July 23 following a one-year postponement due to the spread of COVID-19.

Sheila Smith, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told VOA that while the United States and Japan will want to present a united front on China, "both governments understand that this is a delicate moment in the relationship with China" and "they don't want to incite or provoke activities that they don't desire".

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"It seems the sole aim for the USA and Japan to reinforce their decades-old alliance under the new US administration is to redirect it against China, a signal the two countries should have avoided to send as it brims with a Cold War mentality and ideological bias", the paper wrote. Suga, who is seeking to showcase Japan's security commitments with the United States, Japan's only treaty ally, told reporters before his talks with Biden that the trip was meant to "reaffirm the new and tight bond between us" as the USA and Japan deal with challenges in the region.

"Taiwan, located in an important position in the first island chain, continues to play a key role in regional stability and prosperity and also shares the same feelings with regional countries over the threats and aggression via land, maritime and aerospace", the ministry said.

Mike Mochizuki, a political scientist at George Washington University, said that China's reaction to the statement was predictable.

Japan long has moved cautiously on steps that might worsen relations with China, though Suga has been more outspoken.

China tested US and Taiwanese resolve weeks into the Biden administration by sending fighter jets and bombers near Taiwan.

The comment comes amid Beijing's increased military pressure on the self-ruled island that is claimed as a province by the government of mainland China.

"This is a very fine line", he said.

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