Connect with us


Who Attended the State Banquet with Japan's Prime Minister in Washington?

Take an inside look at the "who's who" of entertainers, businessmen, and politicians invited by President Biden to the White House banquet for PM Fumio Kishida.



Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden and their wives arrive at the sstate dinner at the White House on April 10. (Courtesy of Prime Minister's Office)

Leading figures from the worlds of entertainment, business and politics were treated to a lavish dinner at the White House on April 10. President Joe Biden hosted the banquet in honor of the visiting Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida.

The menu included house-cured salmon and dry-aged ribeye steak. They were paired with wines from Washington State and Oregon. 

The guest list reveals much about the close links between the United States and Japan. Here's the inside information on some of those who came.

President Joe Biden hosts a state dinner for Prime Minister Kishida at the White House on April 10. (Courtesy of Prime Minister's Office)

Fumio Kishida and Joe Biden

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida chose to give a speech in English. He claimed to be overwhelmed to find himself among such a prestigious group of prominent American and Japanese guests. His wife Yuko, he said, told him it was hard to tell who the guest of honor was. He added he was relieved when he was offered a seat next to President Joe Biden.


The J-pop duo, YOASOBI, featuring Ayase, 30, and vocalist Ikura, 23, are performing this summer at two huge US festivals in Coachella and Lollapalooza. "There weren't many opportunities for Japanese music to go out into the world until now," said Ayase. "Our ultimate wish is to have our music reach as many people as possible, and so we will continue to work hard every day."

Robert De Niro and Tiffany Chen arrive at the White House on April 10. (©REUTERS/Bonnie Cash)

Robert De Niro and Tiffany Chen

The 80-year-old Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro arrived holding hands with his 45-year-old girlfriend Tiffany Chen. De Niro looked dapper in a classic black tuxedo, while Chen wore a strapless, white floor-length gown. They welcomed their first baby in 2023. 

As a businessman, De Niro co-founded the successful Japanese restaurant chain Nobu with Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. The company runs smart restaurants and luxury hotels around the world.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and his wife Elissa Leonard arrive for the state dinner on April 10, 2024. (©REUTERS/Bonnie Cash)

Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez

Billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, 60, was accompanied by his partner, the journalist and philanthropist, Lauren Sánchez, 54. She wore a revealing crimson corset dress and a floor-length skirt. The couple recently took a vacation to Japan. The trip, documented on Sanchez's Instagram, showed them enjoying traditional culture. Among other things, they were pictured sitting on tatami mats, practicing meditation. 

William J Burns

The director of the CIA William Burns takes a keen interest in all aspects of international security. He is reported to have just returned from a trip to Egypt, where he tried to negotiate the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. Under Burns' leadership, the CIA has expanded its operations to monitor China. The dinner gave him a chance to speak with Japan's top national security team. 

President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida share a toast at the State Dinner on April 10. (Courtesy of Prime Minister's Office)

Antony J Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has visited Japan many times. Moreover, he has a good relationship with the nation's most senior politicians and diplomats. Among the topics he may have raised during the dinner was an invitation for Japan to cooperate with the AUKUS security pact. That group involves the USA, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Bill Clinton and Hilary Clinton

During his presidency, Bill Clinton worked hard to create a mutually beneficial trade relationship between the US and Japan. Hilary Clinton has exchanged views on gender equality and women's empowerment with Japan's Foreign Minister, Yoko Kamikawa, who was also at the dinner.


General Charles Q Brown Jr

General Brown is America's top military official and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He held talks with Prime Minister Kishida in Tokyo in 2023. Earlier on April 11, President Biden indicated that Japan and America would strengthen air defense and consider working on non-nuclear defense projects.

CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Jamie Dimon and his wife Judith Kent arrive for the state dinner on April 10. (©REUTERS/Bonnie Cash)

Jamie Dimon

The Chief Executive of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon is America's most influential banker. A few days before the dinner, he told investors that he is worried that geopolitical events ー including the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war ー as well as US political polarization, "may very well be creating risks that could eclipse anything since World War II."

Other influential figures from the world of business who attended the dinner included Larry Fink of the investment company Blackrock, Apple CEO Tim Cook, former Mitsubishi Chairman and current CSEO Ken Kobayashi, and the founder and president of SoftBank, Masayoshi Son.

Aged ribeye steak was the main dish at the White House dinner in Washington. (© Getty/Kyodo News)

David McCall

Mr McCall is president of the United Steelworkers union. He has opposed a proposal by Japan's Nippon Steel Corp to acquire United States Steel. Moreover, the Biden administration has sided with the union in opposition to the deal. Asked about the issue at a press conference, Prime Minister Kishida said: "We understand that discussions are underway between the parties. We hope these discussions will unfold in directions that would be positive for both sides."

Matcha-flavored pistachio cake served as dessert at the White House dinner. (© Reuters)

Neil Bluhm 

Mr Bluhm has made billions from casinos and hopes to expand his operations in Japan. He feels that his company could be a good partner for the local community. "Our projection is that the local government will make over $400 million USD a year from all the different sources of revenue," he said.

Michael Sacks

Joe Biden also invited a number of prominent donors. One was Michael Sacks, chairman of Grosvenor Capital Management. He recently hosted a fundraiser for Biden's election campaign in Chicago.

The US President arranged for singer-songwriter Paul Simon to entertain guests at the state dinner on April 10. (Courtesy of Prime Minister's Office)


Author: Duncan Bartlett, Diplomatic Correspondent

Mr Bartlett is the Diplomatic Correspondent for JAPAN Forward and a Research Associate at the SOAS China Institute. Read his articles and essays.