U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel after arriving at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, Japan on Monday. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Vice President Kamala Harris met with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Monday to discuss China's recent aggression in the Taiwan Strait and to condemn North Korea's recent ballistic missile launch.
Harris held the meeting with Kishida as she leads the U.S. presidential delegation to Japan ahead of Tuesday's funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot dead in an assassination in July.
"They discussed the People's Republic of China's recent aggressive and irresponsible provocations in the Taiwan Strait, and reaffirmed the importance of preserving peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," the White House said in a readout of the meeting.
Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, a self-governing republic claimed by China, sparking a series of military drills in the Taiwan Strait -- which separates the island from mainland China.
In one such drill, Taiwan's Defense Ministry said Chinese aircraft and naval vessels had possibly simulated an attack on the island. The U.S. Navy later sent two warships through the strait prompting Chinese officials to say the country remained on "high alert."
In their talks Monday, Harris and Kishida also "pledged to work together" to address threats posed by North Korea's nuclear and ballistic weapons program and the importance of resolving the issue of Japanese citizens "abducted" by North Korea.
The United States and South Korea on Monday kicked off four days of joint naval exercises, the first of their kind in five years, just a day after North Korea fired the short-range ballistic missile into the sea between Korea and Japan.
Harris, in her talks with Kishida on Monday, "underscored the benefits" of trilateral cooperation between the United States, South Korea and Japan "given our shared security concerns."
Joining Harris as part of the delegation for Shinzo Abe's funeral are U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, and Harris' national security adviser Philip Gordon.
The delegation also includes retired Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, Adm. Linda Fagan, U.S. Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassadors to Japan J. Thomas Schieffer and John Roos, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former assistant to the president Stephen Hadley.
Thousands of Japanese residents paid their respects to Abe before a private funeral in July at Zojoji Temple.