Japan Society CEO offers insights on President Biden’s upcoming meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihide SugaApril 12, 20212 min read
Much like the cherry blossoms that are reaching peak in DC and are just starting to bloom here in NYC, U.S.-Japan relations seem set to hit their peak with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga set to become the first world leader to meet with President Biden at the White House this week. This marks the first time a Japanese leader—or any Asian leader—is the first to meet with a U.S. president, since traditionally this honor has been reserved for a neighboring country like Canada or Mexico, or a European ally such as the UK.
What does this mean for geopolitics? How does this shift our relationship with Japan and other allies? What does this mean for the balance of global power in a world of ever-shifting alliances? According to Joshua Walker, President & CEO of Japan Society, this historic visit indicates the following:
- This visit highlights the shift from a Western Transatlantic to an Eastern Transpacific Asian century, where Japan plays a critical role as a frontline security ally of the United States against China as this competition dominates geopolitics.
- It emphasizes the importance of democratic allies like Japan, specifically the Quad formation of Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S. as a new multilateral framing of America’s engagement in Asia. Japanese leadership inaugurated this concept in the last decade, which has now been embraced by the Biden administration.
- Brings into focus the 70 years of security treaty alliance between the United States and Japan, where Biden and Suga have been key players for the last half century—since the opening to China that changed the character of U.S.-Japan relations.
- Represents a key bilateral opportunity for both new administrations to get to know each other on the world stage in advance of the G7 summit in England this summer, and a time to coordinate strategies between the first and third largest economies, from domestic COVID responses and infrastructure investment to global responses to climate change and authoritarian regimes from North Korea and Myanmar to Iran.
- As host of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan elevates global aspirations and hopes for a successful, albeit different, competition of the human spirit that, through its resiliency, can overcome COVID. America represents the largest Olympic delegation and TV market, while Japan is the only Asian country to host two Summer Olympics even as China plans for its own Winter Games in 2022.
Joshua W. Walker, PhD President & CEO
Walker leads Japan Society to create deep bonds between the US & Japan through programs in culture, education, business, policy & technology