US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio agreed during their first formal sit-down to bolster their bilateral defense and economic cooperation, according to the White House.
The meeting, the first since Kishida assumed the premiership in October, was held virtually amid a global surge in coronavirus cases caused by the omicron variant.
Biden "commended Prime Minister Kishida’s strong commitment to the U.S.-Japan Alliance, and his determination to fundamentally strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities to reinforce deterrence against common threats," the White House said in a statement following the nearly hour-and-a-half meeting.
"He welcomed the Prime Minister’s intent to revise Japan’s National Security Strategy and other key guiding documents. In particular, President Biden welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to increase spending on defense, and underscored the importance of sustaining these vital investments over time," it said.
"President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida agreed that the U.S.-Japan Alliance has never been stronger or more necessary," it added.
Turning to China, both leaders agreed to "push back" on Beijing's efforts to "change the status quo in the East China Sea and South China Sea," the White House said without offering specifics on what policies they intend to pursue.
On the economic front, Biden and Kishida pledged to enhance ties, and "affirmed the importance of U.S. economic leadership in the Indo-Pacific, which President Biden committed to intensify," the White House said. The leaders also agreed on their desire to resolve outstanding bilateral trade issues.