PC: ABC News
According to a White House official speaking to CNN, Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the US presidential delegation to Japan for the assassinated Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral.
The official from the White House stated that the prime minister’s visit “will respect the legacy of Prime Minister Abe and underline the importance of his leadership in supporting the alliance between the United States and Japan and pushing a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Additional members of the group will be revealed at a later date, the source added. Local media in Asia also claimed last month that preparations for the vice president’s visit had already started on the part of US officials.
From September 25 to September 29, Harris will be in Asia, first visiting Tokyo, Japan, and then Seoul, South Korea.
The official stated that Harris will visit both locations and meet with “top government officials and civil society members in a series of engagements that will emphasise the strength of the United States’ partnerships with Japan and the Republic of Korea.”
According to a person acquainted with the preparations, Yoon Suk Yeol, the president of South Korea, and Fumio Kishida, the prime minister of Japan, will both meet with Harris.
According to the source, President Joe Biden invited Harris to head the trip.
Abe, 67, lost his life in July after being shot while making a speech during a campaign in Nara, Japan. When he passed away, Biden expressed his sorrow, stating that he was “stunned, indignant, and terribly saddened” by the news.
“Above all, [Abe] cared greatly about the Japanese people and dedicated his life to their service. He was working to advance democracy even as he was being assaulted “In a statement issued by the White House, Biden stated. Following his passing, Biden directed that the American flag be flown at half-staff for two days at the White House and on other federal properties. Later that day, he paid a visit to the Japanese embassy to sign a guest book.
The vice president will be travelling to Asia for the second time since entering office. First Black and South Asian woman to hold the position in the US is Harris.
In the middle of the administration’s first significant foreign policy crisis following the US’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, Harris travelled to Southeast Asia in August 2021. Her office was informed of a “report of a recent possible anomalous health incident,” which is how the government usually refers to the mysterious Havana syndrome that has sickened hundreds of US officials over the past few years, and her departure from Singapore to the second stop of Vietnam was delayed by several hours.
In an effort to strengthen ties with partners in the region, Harris organised a number of events that concentrated on regional security concerns in light of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, economic concerns like supply chain problems with global chip production, climate change, and the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the source, officials view this trip as a continuation of the significant work completed on her previous trip and another push onto the international stage.
Harris has also made numerous trips to Latin America and Europe in addition to Asia. While in office, she has also communicated with more than 100 world leaders.
Early in 2022, Biden travelled to Asia and used a high-level gathering of Indo-Pacific leaders, among other things, to caution China about its behaviour in Taiwan. Since his visit, the relationship between the US and China has become more tense. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, China conducted military exercises for several days in August that practically ringed Taiwan.
In response to a question on whether he will run into Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit later this year in Indonesia, Biden told reporters over the weekend, “If he’s there, I’m sure I’ll run into him.”
But the White House source noted that Harris’ activities will demonstrate “our lasting commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, and our shared economic and security interests in the region and around the world,” during her trip later this month.