Florida Governor Ron DeSantis embarked on his first overseas trip since 2019, meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo to discuss economic matters and military strategy, signaling a potential presidential campaign in the future.
The move is widely seen as an effort by the governor to expand his reputation as an international deal maker as calls to get him to run for office in 2024 continue to grow.
The Washington Post reported that the trip was part of an "international trade mission" organized by Enterprise Florida, a state economic development organization that seeks to establish economic ties between Florida and Japan, South Korea, Israel, and the United Kingdom.
DeSantis stated in a press release last week, "This trade mission will give us the opportunity to strengthen economic relationships and continue to demonstrate Florida's position as an economic leader."
The governor plans to visit the other three nations during his trip to promote economic cooperation.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Kishida, DeSantis praised Japan's efforts to bolster its military in response to increasing threats from communist China.
"We very much applaud your efforts to bolster your defenses," DeSantis said. "We understand it's a tough neighborhood out here, with North Korea, the rise of the [Chinese Communist Party], and we really believe that a strong Japan is good for America, and a strong America is good for Japan."
DeSantis also emphasized the need for the U.S. to invest more in its military to address emerging threats, acknowledging that there is much room for improvement in the country's stockpiles and military resources.
Following the meeting, DeSantis expressed his strong support for the U.S.-Japan alliance, describing Japan as "a heck of an ally for our country."
He later took to Twitter to share his experience: "We had the privilege of meeting with Prime Minister Kishida to build on discussions we had during the SEUS Japan Conference in Florida this past fall. We look forward to strengthening the relationship between Japan and Florida."