Biden Meets Japan PM To Discuss China Concerns & U.S. Steel Deal

During his tour to Washington, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized common concerns about China’s aggressive military actions in the Pacific.

This visit comes at a unique time when the two countries are publicly at odds over a Japanese business’s proposed acquisition of a famous and crucial American company.

Kishida visited with Brad Smith, vice chairman and president of Microsoft, and laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. Before the state dinner, Biden and Kishida will meet in the East Room for discussions and a joint press conference. The visit coincides with Biden’s announcement last month that he is against the proposed sale of U.S. Steel, a steel company located in Pittsburgh, to Nippon Steel, a Japanese company. This has exposed a clear divide in the relationship, just as the two presidents are trying to strengthen it.

As Biden’s representative to Tokyo, Ambassador Rahm Emanuel attempted to minimize the effect on the relationship of Biden’s stance against the U.S. Steel purchase. According to a scheme that the Biden administration green-lit in February, a U.S. affiliate of the Japanese firm Mitsui would earn billions of dollars from selling cranes manufactured in the U.S.

Concerns over the potential impact on unionized workers, supply lines, and U.S. national security arose after Nippon Steel’s December announcement that it intended to acquire U.S. Steel for $14.1 billion in cash. Japan’s ambassador to Washington, Shigeo Yamada, left the question of whether Kishida will bring up the Nippon-U.S. Steel pact with Biden unanswered.

Despite dealing with the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the protracted Israel-Hamas conflict, Biden has attempted to shift foreign policy attention to the Pacific. Kishida and Yoon Suk Yeol, the president of South Korea, were brought together by Biden last year at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.