Japan PM visits US for first Biden summit

Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga has met US President Joe Biden at White House.
Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga has met US President Joe Biden at White House.

US President Joe Biden has hosted Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as the first foreign leader to visit his White House.

Biden welcomed Suga for a one-day summit that offered the Democratic president a chance to work further on his pledge to revitalise US alliances that frayed under his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.

"Our co-operation is vital... to meeting the challenges facing our nations and ensuring the future of the region will remain free and open," Biden said as he sat down with Suga.

The two countries, he added, have a "big agenda ahead of us".

The meeting was expected to yield steps for diversifying supply chains seen as over-reliant on China and a $US2 billion ($A2.6 billion) commitment from Japan to work with the United States on alternatives to the 5G network of Chinese firm Huawei, a senior US official said.

Biden and Suga also planned to discuss human rights issues related to China including crackdowns in Hong Kong and on Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, the official said.

The summit, Biden's first in-person meeting with a foreign leader as president, is expected to produce a formal statement on Taiwan, said the official who did not want to be identified.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden would address with Suga China's "increasingly coercive action" on Taiwan, which is China's most sensitive territorial issue.

It would be the first joint statement on Taiwan by US and Japanese leaders since 1969.

The US official said that both countries, while not wanting to raise tensions or provoke China, were trying to send a clear signal that the country's dispatch of warplanes into Taiwan's air defence zone was incompatible with maintaining peace and stability.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Friday that China has expressed solemn concern about what he called "collusion" between Japan and the United States, and the countries should take China's concerns seriously.

Suga arrived at the West Wing doors in a black sports utility vehicle flying US and Japanese flags.

The driveway was lined with a flag-bearing military honour guard.

He met earlier with Vice President Kamala Harris, and following Oval Office talks with Biden the two leaders were due to hold a joint news conference.

"Freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are the universal values that link our alliance," Suga said in the meeting with Biden.

"The importance of such values has risen to an unprecedented level."

As they sat down for talks, Biden, Suga and their two delegations all wore masks in keeping with protocols to protect against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the Suga meeting and another planned summit with South Korea in May, Biden hopes to energise joint efforts with Australia, India and Japan - in a grouping known as the Quad - as well as with South Korea, to counter both China and North Korea.

Australian Associated Press