President Obama welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the White House, where the two leaders were later expected to discuss newly strengthened defense ties. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Barack Obama welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the White House for talks on Tuesday (April 28) to showcase newly strengthened defense ties and advance a long-delayed Pacific trade deal as the two allies seek to counter China's rising influence in Asia. "The world is facing numerous challenges, more than ever. Japan will be at the forefront with the United States in addressing regional and global challenges, while developing our bilateral ties with the United States in a consistent manner," said Abe, speaking through a translator. But as Abe tries to focus on the future amid the ceremonial pomp of his official visit to Washington, the conservative leader is expected to be dogged by critics' questions about how he is handling his country's wartime past. The official agenda is intended to highlight how times have changed for the former bitter World War Two enemies - even though some sticking points remain. When Obama and Abe meet, they will put their stamp on new guidelines for defense cooperation, a sign of Japan's readiness to take more responsibility for its security. But while Japan moves to loosen restrictions on its post- war pacifist constitution, details are still to be worked out on how much leeway its military will have to assist U.S. forces beyond Japanese waters, especially in the tense South China Sea. Though the White House has dashed hopes for a breakthrough trade deal during Abe's visit, Obama's aides say the leaders will take stock of "substantial progress" in negotiations and chart a path toward a major 12-nation Pacific trade pact.