Japan PM Suga's visit to US delayed to April 16

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Apr 02, 2021, 09:32 AM(IST)

Suga and Biden Photograph:( WION )

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Suga is now scheduled to meet US President Joe Biden on April 16, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato confirmed on Friday.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's visit to the United States has been delayed to mid-April from a proposed early April date.

Suga is now scheduled to meet US President Joe Biden on April 16, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato confirmed on Friday.

Local media had reported the trip would take place next week, but Kato said the mid-April date would give both sides time to prepare.

The trip comes at a time of renewed focus on China's role in the region, as well as its alleged abuses of the Uighur minority and its crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong.

"The date has been set to April 16 to take all possible measures that will ensure success of the Prime Minister's visit to the US," Kato said.

Suga was initially expected to meet Biden on April 9. Now he is expected to leave Japan on April 15 and depart Washington on April 17, two government sources told Reuters.

The Nikkei daily newspaper reported on Friday that Suga's meeting with Biden was postponed because of circumstances on the US side.

The talks follow a visit by the Pentagon chief and top US diplomat to Japan in March, when the two countries warned China against "coercion and destabilising behaviour".

Kato said Suga's trip would be a chance to discuss "strengthening the Japan-US alliance" and issues ranging from the coronavirus to climate change.

Matters related to China and North Korea will also likely be on the agenda, Kato added. 
North Korea carried out missile tests last week in its first substantive provocation since Biden took office.

Suga would be the first foreign leader to visit the United States since Biden took office in January.

Suga, 72, became prime minister in September after his predecessor Shinzo Abe stepped down for health reasons. He has had his first shot of Covid-19 vaccine in preparation for the US trip, although Japan is not expected to begin mass jabs for weeks.

Suga will also reportedly use the trip to invite Biden to the Tokyo Olympics, due to begin on July 23 after a year's pandemic delay.

(with inputs from agencies)

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