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US lawmakers meet Japan’s prime minister, affirm alliance

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US visiting lawmakers Japanese leaders reaffirmed their commitment to working together on Saturday morning.

The six members of Congress met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida over breakfast, agreeing with him on the importance of maintaining a “free and open Indo-Pacific region,” according to the Foreign Ministry.

the visit from the six lawmakers – led by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham – comes as global tensions are heightened.

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The delegation includes Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas.

On Friday, the bipartisan group met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, where they declared their support for the self-governing island democracy.

In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, members of an American Congressional delegation, from left, Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Richard Burr, R.N.C., Sen. Bob Menendez, DN.J., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., pose for a photo with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, center right, and other Taiwanese officials during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022.

In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, members of an American Congressional delegation, from left, Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Richard Burr, R.N.C., Sen. Bob Menendez, DN.J., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., pose for a photo with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, center right, and other Taiwanese officials during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, April 15, 2022.
(Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

The move drew ire from China and the nation carried out military drills near Taiwan in protest.

China is against any official exchanges between the Taiwanese government and other foreign governments because it claims Taiwan is part of its national territory and not an independent country. China and Taiwan split after a civil war in 1949.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian pledged that China would “continue to take strong measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In addition, North Korea tested intercontinental ballistic missiles in March, prompting the US to impose penalties on five North Korean entities and Japan to issue their own penalties.

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North Korea has also said it is prepared to use its nuclear capabilities on South Koreashould its neighbor launch a “preemptive strike,” following statements made by a senior South Korean official.

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and an authoritative figure in his government, said noted that South Korea is not their “principal enemy,” according to North Korean news agency KCNA Watch.

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a press conference at the prime minister's official residence on April 8, 2022, Tokyo, Japan.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a press conference at the prime minister’s official residence on April 8, 2022, Tokyo, Japan.
(Photo by Rodrigo Reyes Marin / Zuma Press)

This month, US and Japanese warships are conducting joint naval drills in waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula for the first time in five years.

Concerns among conservative politicians in Tokyo have heightened since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While Japan does not recognize Taiwan, they maintain friendly relations. The country’s pacifist constitution, adopted after its defeat in World War II, bans the use of force in international disputes.

Kishida told the lawmakers that the bilateral alliance superseded political party divisions and the ministry said Tokyo asked for US support for ongoing efforts by Japan to bring home Japanese who were abducted by North Korea decades ago.

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North Korea returned some of the abducted people in 2004.

Fox News’ Lawrence Richard and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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