President Barack Obama is welcoming Japan's new prime minister to the White House.
The two leaders meet Friday in the Oval Office to reinforce their longstanding alliance at a time of high tension stoked by a Japan-China territorial dispute and a North Korean nuclear test.
Shinzo Abe is a nationalist and a keen advocate of stronger relations with Washington that remain key to U.S. policy in Asia but haven't been helped by the rotating door of Japanese prime ministers.
Abe is the fifth since Obama took office.
The U.S. will be gauging Tokyo's intent to join a trans-Pacific trade pact and will be encouraging Japan to patch up differences with Beijing that threaten to spark a conflict in a region critical to the global economy.