Next week, Prime Minister Suga will position Japan as on-board with plans to accelerate the transition to clean energy when he becomes the first overseas leader to meet U.S. President Biden in person at the White House.
As proof, Suga is expected to announce Japan’s exit from financing of coal-fired power plants overseas and outline tougher national emissions target. The PM hopes these will find favor with America’s ardent green energy president, cementing a relationship that’s vital for Japan’s security and more recently, for vaccine supply.
The fact that Suga will be the first foreign leader to meet Biden also underlines Japan’s strategic importance for the new U.S. administration. After all, Biden has held numerous video calls with other global leaders in the past two months, yet this meeting was arranged (and re-arranged) as a face-to-face.
This will also be Suga’s first overseas trip to a G7 country since taking office last September and will be the first significant test of his diplomatic skills. Currently, his popularity is trailing due to a slow response to the pandemic and poor leadership skills. The PM is visiting Washington in a very weak position, but a successful U.S. visit could change that.