Biden to meet Japan’s new PM Kishida virtually on Friday

President Joe Biden is set to virtually meet Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan on Friday, after a planned meeting in the U.S. was cancelled due to the latest global wave of COVID-19 cases. 

The meeting aims to “further deepen ties between our governments, economies, and our people,” the White House said in a statement Sunday. It will be the first meeting for the two leaders since Kishida’s election in November. 

“The meeting will highlight the strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance, which is the cornerstone of peace, security, and stability in the Indo-Pacific and around the world,” the statement said.

“President Biden looks forward to working with Prime Minister Kishida to advance our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, and to expand our close cooperation on critical issues like combatting COVID-19, addressing the climate crisis, and partnering on new and emerging technologies, including through the Quad.”

In April, Biden met with former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in Washington, where they discussed their strategic vision for the Indo-Pacific amid the growing unrest in China and North Korea. 

Suga stepped down from his position in September after his approval ratings fell below 30 percent amid fierce criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Kishida was a foreign minister under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a strong U.S. ally during his time in office.