Pelosi lands in Japan, ends Asia trip

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Japan on 4 August for the final stop of her Asian tour, following a visit to Taiwan that incensed China.

AFP reporters saw the politician disembark from her plane at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, before greeting the US ambassador and other officials with hugs and handshakes.

Beijing has launched large-scale military drills in the waters around Taiwan after Pelosi this week became the highest elected US official to set foot on the self-ruled island in 25 years.

The 82-year-old Pelosi defied a series of stern threats from China over meeting Taiwanese leaders on 3 August, saying her trip made it “unequivocally clear” that the United States would not abandon a democratic ally.

It is Pelosi’s first trip to Japan since 2015, and she arrived from South Korea where her schedule included a visit to the border with nuclear-armed North Korea.

She will meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for breakfast on 5 August, Japan’s foreign ministry said, to discuss the two countries’ alliance and issues of shared interest.

Pelosi is also scheduled to discuss international affairs with Japan’s House of Representatives speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda.

Japan, a key US ally, has lodged a diplomatic protest against China over its massive military exercises encircling Taiwan, which began on 4 August.

Just before Pelosi’s arrival, Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said five ballistic missiles fired by China were believed to have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Parts of Japan’s southernmost island region Okinawa are close to Taiwan, as are islets at the center of a long-running dispute between Tokyo and Beijing.

US President Joe Biden also angered Beijing on a visit to Japan in May, when he said US forces would defend Taiwan militarily if China attempted to take control of the island by force — prompting Beijing to warn that the US was “playing with fire.”

However, Biden and his team at the time insisted that their decades-old approach to Taiwan remained in place.

This includes arming the democratic island for its own defense while acknowledging China’s legal sovereignty, and expressing “strategic ambiguity” on whether American troops would ever intervene if China invaded the territory.

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