White House hosts star-studded state dinner including Clintons, Bezos, and finance giants

The White House hosted its glitzy state dinner for the Japanese prime minister on Wednesday night, and some star-studded names are on the guest list.

Former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, movie star Robert De Niro, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon were just some of the guests at the dinner.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and wife, Kishida Yuko, Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

State dinners are some of the strongest diplomatic tools the White House can use to honor foreign leaders. The event featuring Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida marks the first time a Japanese leader has been to the United States in nine years.

Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sánchez arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and wife, Kishida Yuko, Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

“When I became president, I said that the United States would rebuild the muscle of our democratic alliances and we’d stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies again because our alliances are America’s greatest asset,” Biden said in remarks earlier Wednesday. “The relationship with Japan is powerful proof of that — that in investing in our alliance and raising our collective ambitions, we yield remarkable results.”

The guest list also included Biden’s Cabinet secretaries, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. 

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his wife, Yuko Kishida, by the Grand Staircase in the Cross Hall of the White House during a State Dinner at the White House, Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

First lady Jill Biden, who was also in attendance with other members of the first family, selected Paul Simon to perform at the state dinner because he was an artist that both the first lady and Kishida appreciate, according to the White House. 

Joe Biden has also used musical diplomacy in a previous state dinner with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who even sang a few bars of Don McLean’s “American Pie” following a Broadway star’s rendition of the iconic song.

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Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff arrive at the Booksellers area of the White House for the State Dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and wife, Kishida Yuko, Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Other members of the guest list included Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, and Democratic governors, including Govs. Kathy Hochul (D-NY), Josh Shapiro (D-PA), Tony Evers (D-WI), and Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC). 

Japanese American Olympic champion figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, Microsoft President Brad Smith, Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), who served as U.S. ambassador to Japan during the Trump administration, and current Ambassador Rahm Emanuel also attended the dinner.

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