WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden welcomed Japan’s prime minister to the White House in his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader. The two countries announced a new partnership.
Biden's choice of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as his first guest Friday underlines a theme of Biden’s administration — strengthening U.S. alliances as a first step to dealing with global challenges, especially with an increasingly confident and assertive China.
“Yoshi, you’ll probably be seeing more of me in the future," Biden told reporters at a joint appearance with Suga Friday afternoon.
Biden talked about U.S. and Japan agreeing to coalitions to share vaccines with the world, and ways to prepare for the next pandemic in the future, "because there will be others," the president said.
The president also talked about partnerships on issues connected to climate change.
Biden also congratulated Suga, and Japan, for the recent victory of Hideki Matsuyama at the Masters Tournament.
The Japanese prime minister aims to showcase security commitments with the United States. Suga said Japan and the U.S. had agreed to next steps in relations with China and North Korea.
The new commitment of Japan and the U.S. to work together will first work on "getting the pandemic under control and helping our friends and neighbors throughout the Indo-Pacific region to recover," Biden said.
The Biden administration calls managing U.S. policies toward the Indo-Pacific the primary U.S. challenge of the 21st century as China under President Xi Jinping asserts growing economic and military power.
Biden was also asked about Friday's mass shooting in Indiana, and other recent deadly shootings. In response, the president became passionate, stressing "It is a national embarrassment and must come to an end."
He told the crowd of reporters that those who own guns support background checks and limiting the sale of certain weapons.
"Who in God’s name needs a weapon that can hold 100 rounds, or 40 rounds, or 20 rounds?" the president asked rhetorically, "It's just wrong."
He called on