U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had the first phone conversation at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. In this 15-minute conversation, they pushed back against China citing the U.S.-Japan security treaty and relations between South Korea and Japan were not mentioned.
Speaking at a press conference after the phone conversation, Suga said he mentioned that the U.S.-Japan alliance is indispensable to regional and international peace and prosperity and it needs to be strengthened, adding that Biden gave him a commitment that Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan security treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands. Suga’s referring to Biden as “president-elect” suggests that he wants to build trust with Biden even though U.S. President Donald Trump refuses to concede.
Suga asked Biden to join Japan to realize a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” which is also related to efforts to keep China in check. The Japanese prime minister also requested support from Biden in regards to abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea. They also agreed to work together in responding to global issues such as COVID-19 and climate change.