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Japan Prime Minister Visit To U.S. Promotes 'Kizuna' And 'Tomodachi'


U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda further promoted the sense of mutual friendship ("tomodachi") and the bond of trust ("kizuna") between the two nations in a series of high-level meetings this week in the U.S. capital.

During the meetings, Obama and Noda discussed bilateral and multilateral issues facing the two countries. On the agenda being discussed were regional security, trade and investment, international organizations and people-to-people exchanges. A joint vision statement was released at the end of the discussions, hailing the U.S.-Japan Alliance as "the cornerstone of peace, security, and stability in the Asia-Pacific region."

"I'm told that over the past year many Japanese have found strength in what they call "kizuna" - the bonds of solidarity between friends and neighbors; bonds which cannot be broken. Mr. Prime Minister, the same could be said of the bonds between the United States and Japan. And today we welcome you in that spirit," President Obama said at a joint press conference Monday afternoon.

"I have always held the conviction that our bilateral alliance is the lynchpin of Japan's diplomacy. And in the conversation that I had with U.S. friends yesterday, I felt anew that the U.S.-Japan alliance must be unshakable, indeed, that it is unshakable," Prime Minister Noda returned.

President Obama praised the Prime Minister for contributions to putting pressure on Iran and its oil exports.

"Japan made the decision to reduce oil imports from Iran. This is just one more example of how, despite challenging times at home, Japan has continued to serve as a model and a true global leader," he said.

North Korea's failed missile launch and China's growing regional influence were also discussed, the two leaders confirmed. Trade and investment was an additional pillar of the talks, in which both hope to further economic ties between the two Pacific nations.

"The shared [U.S.-Japan] vision also calls for the strengthening of energy cooperation. And we discussed in our meeting today expanding LNG exports from the United States to Japan," Prime Minister Noda said. Japan's decision to favor the United States over other natural gas reserve hosting countries is a further example of the strong bonds between Washington and Tokyo.

Before Noda's departure, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted him at a dinner Monday night at the National Geographic Society. At the dinner, the Secretary discussed people-to-people programs the two countries are hoping will strengthen bilateral ties.

"Our shared goal is to promote a tomodachi or friendship generation of young people who will be our future leaders. That's why we have created a private-public partnership, the TOMODACHI Initiative, to bring young people from both countries together," Clinton stated during her speech at the dinner.

"We are looking forward to receiving hundreds of young Japanese students and sending hundreds of young American students, through student exchanges, sports programs, and entrepreneurial programs."

Obama and Noda announced a number of cooperative initiatives after their meeting, including meetings of a security consultative committee, bilateral commission on civil nuclear cooperation, new clean energy initiatives, global supply chain security, expedited immigration clearances, and cooperation on cyber issues, space and innovation, entrepreneurship and the internet economy.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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