Japan PM Quotes Star Trek at White House State Dinner

Paul Simon provided the music
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 11, 2024 3:37 AM CDT
Kishida Invokes Star Trek at White House State Dinner
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his wife Yuko Kishida for a State Dinner at the White House, Wednesday, April 10, 2024.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida cracked jokes and invoked a touchstone of American culture as he quoted from Star Trek at Wednesday's state dinner, telling guests at the White House that he hoped the "unshakable relationship" between his country and the US would "boldly go where no one had gone before." Kishida, who spoke in English, and President Biden exchanged warm toasts to each other and the decades-long, alliance between their nations as top figures from business, sports, and politics—including an ex-president—looked on, the AP reports.

  • Biden, 81, said he and Kishida, 66, came of age as their countries forged a strong bond in the decades after they were pitted against each other in World War II. "We both remember the choices that were made to forge a friendship," Biden said. "We both remember the hard work, what it has done to find healing."
  • The Bidens stepped onto the North Portico to welcome Kishida and his wife, Yuko, who stood out in a flowing royal blue gown on the red carpet. Inside, Jill Biden, wearing a beaded sapphire gown, had transformed the State Floor of the White House into what she called a "vibrant spring garden" for the evening.

  • As the White House served up a maximum dose of pomp to honor its close US ally, notable guests included Bill and Hillary Clinton. Guests chatted politics and talked shop as they strolled in—that meant eclipse chatter from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson ("fabulous" view in Ohio!) and an assessment of Biden's electoral prospects in Wisconsin from Gov. Tony Evers (looking good!). Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, said she didn't expect to be out campaigning for Biden but nonetheless seemed bullish on his reelection. Actor Robert De Niro supplied the night's Hollywood quotient.
  • The guests included plenty of Biden family members, including granddaughter Naomi and her husband, Peter Neal. Business moguls were also in force, including JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Labor luminaries United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain and United Steelworkers President David McCall were also in attendance. Guests at the head table with the Bidens and Kishidas included the Clintons, De Niro, and Japanese pop duo Yoasobi.
  • Guests dined on a meal that was designed to highlight the "bounty of spring" in Japan and the United States: a first course of house-cured salmon that was inspired by a California roll and an entree of rib eye with shishito pepper butter, fava beans, mushrooms, and onions. Dessert was salted caramel pistachio cake with a matcha ganache and cherry ice cream.
  • The music of Paul Simon was also part of the evening. Simon opened his after-dinner performance by playing guitar and singing two of his major hits, "Graceland" and "Slip Slidin' Away." Simon is one of Jill Biden's favorite artists, the White House said, adding that she chose him as a special tribute to Kishida because the prime minister also admires his music.
  • Kishida is on an official visit to the United States this week. The state dinner is Biden's first this year and the fifth of his presidency. Biden has also honored his counterparts from France, South Korea, India, and Australia.
(More state dinner stories.)

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