Japanese PM Kishida tells Congress the U.S. must play leading role in the world

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) applaud as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addresses a joint meeting of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., April 11, 2024.

Amanda Andrade-Rhoades | Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urged the U.S. Thursday to continue playing a leading role in the world as it faces threats to democracy and the economic order.

Kishida told lawmakers at a joint meeting of Congress that the world is at a pivotal moment that will define the next stage of history.

“The world needs the United States to continue playing this pivotal role in the affairs of nations,” Kishida said.

“The international order that the U.S. worked for generations to build is facing new challenges, challenges from those with values and principles very different from ours,” he added.

The speech comes a day after Kishida joined President Joe Biden for a state visit during which they outlined new military cooperation plans and projects to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance as they counter China and Russia.

Kishida told Congress that Japan and the U.S. must work to maintain peace and the rule of law as China, North Korea and Russia look to upend the world order.

“China’s current external stance and military actions present an unprecedented and the greatest strategic challenge, not only to the peace and security of Japan but to the peace and stability of [the] international community at large,” Kishida said.

Kishida said ongoing combat in Ukraine and warnings from Russian President Vladimir Putin of nuclear war demonstrate the importance of military cooperation between the U.S. and Japan.

“As I often say, Ukraine of today may be East Asia of tomorrow,” Kishida warned.

The prime minister pledged that Japan would not sit on the sidelines and require the U.S. to defend international order on its own.

“The U.S. should not be expected to do it all, unaided and on your own,” Kishida said. “The people of Japan are with you, side by side, to assure the survival of liberty. … Not just for our people, but for all people.”

Following the speech, Kishida is scheduled to join Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken for a luncheon at the State Department.

He will then participate in the first U.S.-Japan-Philippines trilateral summit at the White House with Biden and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Kishida is only the second Japanese leader to address U.S. lawmakers. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in 2022 after leaving office, became the first Japanese leader to speak to a joint meeting of Congress in 2015.

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