Japan’s prime minister has become the first foreign leader to visit America’s new president.
As the met, Barack Obama assured Taro Aso that the friendship between the two countries is extremely important to the United States, and one which he wants to strengthen.
The leaders of the world’s two biggest economies had the global financial crisis on the agenda too.
That is the subject of President Obama’s first appearance before tonight’s joint session of Congress, to explain his costly economic rescue plan in a state of the union-style address.
A Japanese government spokesman said Aso would tell Obama that America must get a grip on its over-consumption, and that the prime minister also wants to hear a strong commitment from the US president that the new administration will resist protectionism.
Obama’s campaign promise of broad engagement with countries like North Korea is known to have rattled nerves in Tokyo. The Japanese visit came as North Korea said it was preparing to launch a satellite that some analysts believe is really a test for a missile designed to hit the United States.
Obama said the US-Japan relationship forms the cornerstone of security in east Asia.