Japanese leader asks US to overcome ‘self-doubt’ about global leadership

Japanese leader asks US to overcome ‘self-doubt’ about global leadership

Japan’s Prime Minister Addresses US Congress

Japan’s Prime Minister Addresses US Congress

Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, on Thursday called on Americans to overcome their “self-doubt” as he offered a paean to US global leadership before a bitterly divided Congress.

Warning of risks from the rise of China, Kishida said that Japan – stripped of its right to a military after the second world war – was determined to do more to share responsibility with its ally the United States.

“As we meet here today, I detect an undercurrent of self-doubt among some Americans about what your role in the world should be,” Kishida told a joint session of the House of Representatives and Senate during a state visit to Washington.

“The international order that the US worked for generations to build is facing new challenges, challenges from those with values and principles very different from ours,” Kishida said.Kishida said he understood “the exhaustion of being the country that has upheld the international order almost single-handedly” but added: “The leadership of the United States is indispensable.

“Without US support, how long before the hopes of Ukraine would collapse under the onslaught from Moscow?” he asked.

“Without the presence of the United States, how long before the Indo-Pacific would face even harsher realities?”

He sought to remind lawmakers of the leading role the US has played globally since the second world war. After dropping two nuclear weapons on Japan to end the war, the US helped rebuild Japan, and the nations transformed from bitter enemies to close allies. “When necessary, it made noble sacrifices to fulfill its commitment to a better world,” Kishida said of the US.

While he was careful not to touch on US domestic politics, Kishida’s address comes amid a deadlock in Congress on approving billions of dollars in additional military aid to Ukraine, due to pressure from hard-right Republicans aligned with their presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

Kishida met on Wednesday with Joe Biden where they pledged to step up cooperation, including with new three-way air defenses involving the United States, Japan and Australia.

Sending a clear signal toward China, Kishida meets again with the president on Thursday for a three-way summit with President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, which has been on the receiving end of increasingly assertive Chinese moves in dispute-rife waters.

Kishida said that China’s military actions “present an unprecedented, and the greatest, security challenge”.

China’s actions pose challenges “not only to the peace and security of Japan but to the peace and stability of the international community at large”, he said.Kishida’s speech, from the dais where Biden delivered a raucous State of the Union address a month ago, marked a rare moment of bipartisan unity in Congress.

Lawmakers across party lines offered repeated standing ovations as Kishida reaffirmed support for Ukraine, warned of Chinese influence and highlighted Japanese investment in the United States.

The prime minister, who spent part of his childhood in New York City, read his address in fluent English, after speaking in Japanese at his news conference with Biden.

He mentioned how he watched the classic cartoon The Flintstones as a child in New York.

“I still miss that show, although I could never translate, ‘Yabba Dabba Doo’,” he said.

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