Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and visiting U.S. lawmakers reaffirmed their commitment to working together under a longstanding bilateral alliance on Saturday at a time of heightened global tensions including threats from China and North Korea.
In a meeting over breakfast, the delegation, led by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, agreed with Mr. Kishida on the importance of maintaining a “free and open Indo-Pacific region,” according to the Foreign Ministry.
The six lawmakers’ visit follows their earlier stop in Taiwan, where they made a pointed and public declaration of their support for the self-governing island democracy, while issuing a warning to China. They met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday.
China carried out military drills near Taiwan in protest of the delegation’s visit. Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China was prepared “to take strong measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Concerns in Tokyo, especially among conservative politicians seeking a more assertive role for their military, have heightened since the war in Ukraine.
The question is sensitive because Japan’s pacifist Constitution, adopted after its defeat in Second World War, bans the use of force in international disputes. Japan keeps its overseas military operations to peacekeeping and humanitarian relief.