US, Japanese Leaders to Push for Stronger Alliance

Posted April 30th, 2012 at 8:15 am (UTC-5)
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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda meets with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House Monday for talks that are expected to reaffirm a strong bilateral alliance that has weakened in recent years.

The two leaders are expected to discuss 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.

Security issues are also expected to highlight the talks, particularly concerns that North Korea will test 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.

On the economic front, the two sides are expected to discuss 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 leader 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.