Meeting between Prime Minister Kan and U.S. Vice President Biden

August 31, 2011

Prime Minister Naoto Kan held a meeting with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden on August 23 during the Vice President’s visit to Japan. The outline of the meeting is as follows.

1. Opening Remarks and Assistance to Reconstruction

At the beginning, Prime Minister Kan extended a wholehearted welcome to Vice President Biden on his visit to Japan and expressed his gratitude, on behalf of the people of Japan, for assistance provided by the U.S. since March 11th such as "Operation Tomodachi." Prime Minister Kan also extended his appreciation for the Vice President’s visit to Sendai in northeastern Japan planned in the afternoon, calling it the great opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of Japan and to the world that the disaster area is reviving and getting back to normal in terms of economy and tourism, thanks to the assistance of various foreign countries such as the U.S.

In reply, Vice President Biden expressed his appreciation for the hospitality provided by the Japanese side and said that his visit to Japan had two objectives. He explained that the first objective was to express sympathy for the Japanese people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, noting that he was impressed by their behavior in the face of the disaster. Calling the resolve and courage displayed by the Japanese people a model for the world, he said there was no need for Japan to show gratitude toward the U.S. because Japan would have provided the same assistance for the U.S. if a similar disaster had occurred in the U.S. His only regret, he added, was that the U.S. could not have even done more. He also stated that, while he had been able to deepen relations with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping as he visited the People’s Republic of China at the invitation of President Hu Jintao and Vice President Xi, the second objective was to show that Japan and the U.S. were allies as well as Asia-Pacific powers and that Japan’s economic and political power had a significant value.

2. Japan-U.S. Relations

(1) The Outline

Prime Minister Kan stated that he had held total four summit meetings with President Obama during his premiership for one year and two months, through which the importance of Japan-U.S. relations was confirmed. Prime Minister Kan said that he felt appreciative of the invitation to visit the U.S. extended in the summit meeting on the occasion of the G8 Summit in Deauville, France, last May. He also expressed his disappointment about not being able to make a visit to U.S. in the face of Japan’s domestic political conditions afterwards.

(2) Economy

Prime Minister Kan welcomed the enactment of a bill to raise the federal debt limit in the U.S. Referring to Vice President Biden’s leading role in passing the legislation, Prime Minister Kan expressed his expectation that the world economy would be stable.

Regarding TPP, Prime Minister Kan stated that, although there has been a delay in Japan’s consideration due to the Great East-Japan Earthquake, it was the government’s policy to reconsider it from an overall perspective and make a decision at the earliest possible opportunity. With respect to APEC, Prime Minister Kan expressed his wish to work closely with the U.S. toward a success of APEC USA 2011, taking advantage of Japan’s experience as last year’s chair.

(3) Security

Prime Minister Kan stated that in the last Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee ("2+2"), the two countries had succeeded in demonstrating to the respective home countries and to the rest of the world the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance, by setting new common strategic objectives and the concrete direction of security and defense cooperation. He also mentioned that there was no change in Japan’s commitment to implementing the realignment of the U.S. forces in Japan in accordance with the Japan-U.S. agreement.

In response, Vice President Biden said it was important to steadily conduct the realignment in line with the agreement.

(4) Reconstruction from Earthquake

Prime Minister Kan said Japan was at the stage of transition from recovery to reconstruction, adding that the Government of Japan would like to proceed with "restoration open to the world" while involving other countries such as the U.S. He noted that efforts leading to stronger confidence in the Japanese economy were in progress in Japan and the U.S. under the Japan-U.S. public-private partnership announced last April. He said he would be grateful if the Vice President could help to publicize Japan’s revival both at home and abroad.

(5) Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges

Prime Minister Kan showed his hope to steadily work on Japan-U.S. exchanges through youth exchange, who will buttress the foundation of the future Japan-U.S. alliance, and the next year’s Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial.

3. Asia-Pacific Region

(1) China

Prime Minister Kan said that Japan-China relation was on track towards improvement. He also stated that he would like to deepen the "Mutually Beneficial Relationship based on Common Strategic Interests," taking advantage of the next year’s 40th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations.

Vice President Biden responded by explaining his visit to China, saying that he had good talks with top leaders of the Chinese side.

(2) East Asia Summit (EAS)

Prime Minister Kan said Japan welcomed President Obama’s first participation in the East Asia Summit (EAS) scheduled for November this year, adding that he would like to closely coordinate with the U.S on this occasion for further cooperation between the two nations.

(3) North Korea

Prime Minister Kan said he would like to maintain the close coordination among Japan, the U.S. and the Republic of Korea in addressing North Korean issues. He thanked the U.S. for its support for the abduction issue and asked for continued backing. He also expressed his will to continue demanding concrete actions from North Korea, including the suspension of its uranium enrichment activities.

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