US, Japanese Leaders to Push for Stronger Alliance

Posted April 30th, 2012 at 3:15 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda have announced a new joint vision designed to both strengthen their countries' alliance that has weakened in recent years and help shape the Asia Pacific region.

Speaking alongside Mr. Noda Monday, President Obama said the alliance will remain the foundation of security and prosperity for both nations and a cornerstone of peace in the region.

During their talks at the White House, the two leaders discussed a range of issues, including last week's relocation announcement of about 9,000 U.S. Marines from the Japanese island chain of Okinawa.

The deal is aimed at alleviating tensions between the two allies over the longtime U.S. military presence on Okinawa. Under the agreement, the troops will be relocated to other locations in the Pacific region, including Hawaii, the U.S. territory of Guam, and Australia. A timetable for the relocation has not been set.

The two leaders also discussed regional security concerns that include the possibility of North Korea testing another nuclear bomb or missile. Japan and South Korea have both threatened to try to shoot down any test missile that strays over their territory, an action Pyongyang has said would amount to a declaration of war.

Mr. Obama promised that the more North Korea engages in provocative actions, the more isolated it will become — both economically and diplomatically.

On the economic front, Mr. Obama thanked the Japanese prime minister for his efforts to liberalize trade as the United States seeks to double its exports. Earlier, the two leaders had discussed Japan's possible participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an emerging U.S.-led trade deal involving nine nations across the Asia Pacific. While Mr. Noda has voiced interest in the pact, he faces heavy opposition at home from his party and farmers concerned about the loss of large government subsidies.

Mr. Noda is Japan's sixth prime minister in six years. He is the country's first premier to visit Washington since a 2009 election ushered in his Democratic Party of Japan, which favored a foreign policy that was more independent of the United States.

Mr. Noda's meeting with President Obama will be followed by a gala dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.