- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis commends Japan’s efforts to boost defense spending during a meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, marking the start of a four-nation tour.
- DeSantis seeks to deepen economic ties with Japan, exploring opportunities for collaboration and direct flight routes between Florida and Japan.
- The four-nation tour, which also includes South Korea, Israel, and the United Kingdom, is seen as a way for DeSantis to bolster his defense and diplomatic experience ahead of a potential presidential run.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis kicked off a four-nation tour on Monday by commending Japan’s efforts to increase defense spending during a meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo. DeSantis’ trip, while conducted as a trade mission with the aim of opening new business opportunities between Florida and other countries, is widely viewed as an opportunity for the undeclared presidential contender to enhance his international resume ahead of a potential presidential run. The trade mission will also take him to South Korea, Israel, and the United Kingdom.
“We very much applaud your efforts to bolster your defenses,” DeSantis told Kishida, emphasizing the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance for regional security. “We understand it’s a tough neighborhood out here with North Korea and the rise of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party),” he added.
Kishida initiated a five-year spending plan last year, aiming to allocate 2% of Japan’s GDP, or about ¥43 trillion ($315 billion), to its defense budget by 2027. This comes amid China’s increasing military power and North Korea’s rapid development of missile and nuclear programs.
During their meeting, DeSantis also expressed interest in deepening economic ties with Japan, noting Florida’s growing economy and potential for collaboration with Japanese companies. The Florida governor is seeking direct flight routes to Japan. The Sunshine State is the largest U.S. state without direct flights to the country, but one that many Japanese tourists flock to for its theme parks and other attractions.
Kishida welcomed DeSantis and expressed hopes to strengthen bilateral cooperation on various issues. DeSantis is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi for talks and a working dinner to discuss enhancing political and economic ties between Japan and Florida.
While DeSantis has yet to officially declare his candidacy for the U.S. presidency, his four-nation tour signals his growing political ambitions. During his meeting with Kishida, he stated that he is “not a candidate,” but added, “We’ll see if and when that changes.”