TOKYO (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Japan on Monday to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other officials as part of his four-nation trade mission seen as an attempt by the expected Republican presidential candidate to improve his diplomatic profile.
During their meeting Monday at the Prime Minister’s Office, Kishida told DeSantis that reinforcement of Japan-U.S. ties is key to ensuring the peace, stability and prosperity of the international society, and the two exchanged views on regional issues, according to a Japanese Foreign Ministry statement.
DeSantis is considered the biggest challenger to former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election. He is expected to announce his candidacy in early May.
He has already been meeting with Republican officials and aggressively touring battleground states in the U.S.
DeSantis’ trip, announced Thursday, also includes South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom. He said it’s aimed at strengthening economic relationships and demonstrating Florida’s position as an economic leader.
Kishida welcomed DeSantis’ first trip to Japan and expressed his expectations that the visit will contribute to further strengthening of Japan’s relationship with the United States as well as Florida, the Foreign Ministry said.
During his two-day visit in Tokyo, DeSantis was also scheduled to hold talks with Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and business executives. He is also expected to meet with South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. He is set to deliver a keynote address April 27 in Israel at an event marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of Israel.
DeSantis is accompanied by state officials and his wife, Casey DeSantis.