U.S. President Joe Biden commended Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on the “successful” hosting of the Tokyo Olympics during phone talks on Tuesday and expressed his support for the Paralympics, which will start later in the month, according to the White House.
The Tokyo Games ended Sunday following more than two weeks of competition held amid extraordinary restrictions under the coronavirus pandemic. Biden had supported Japan’s plan to hold a “safe and secure” Olympics despite concerns over pushing ahead with the global sporting event without the pandemic fully under control.
“Biden applauded the performance of all the athletes and highlighted the success of Japanese and U.S. Olympians,” the White House said in a statement.
“The president also affirmed his continuing support for Japan’s hosting of the Paralympics, while noting the public health measures taken so that Olympic athletes could compete in the best traditions of the Olympic spirit,” it said.
The capital is preparing to now host the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
Suga told reporters after their phone talks that he and Biden also affirmed cooperation to further advance a “free and open” Indo-Pacific amid China’s growing assertiveness in the region.
In Washington on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, met with Japan’s national security adviser Takeo Akiba and affirmed the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, as Beijing steps up pressure on Taipei, according to the U.S. State Department.
The Taiwan issue has become one of the key topics of discussion between the two countries, with concerns growing over China’s ambition to invade the self-ruled democratic island.
Taiwan and mainland China have been separately governed since they split as a result of a civil war in 1949. Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, has since endeavored to bring the island into its fold.
Blinken and Akiba also expressed their opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea, where the Japanese-controlled, Chinese-claimed Senkaku Islands are located, as well as to activities that undermine or destabilize the rules-based international order.
The two also noted the importance of trilateral cooperation involving South Korea to address what they call the “pressing challenges of the 21st century,” including the denuclearization of North Korea.
Akiba also agreed during a separate meeting with his U.S. counterpart Jake Sullivan the same day on the need for constant communication between Japan’s National Security Secretariat and the U.S. National Security Council, according to the Japanese government.
Akiba, the head of the secretariat and a former vice foreign minister, assumed Japan’s top security post on July 7, replacing Shigeru Kitamura, a former National Police Agency official.
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