Japan PM Abe seeks united line with Obama
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Japan's new conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday starts a visit to the United States (US) in which he hopes to show a firm, unified line to an assertive China and a defiant North Korea.
Mr Abe holds his first meeting on Friday with President Barack Obama at a time of growing tensions between Japan and China, which is seen as challenging Tokyo's control over strategic islands, and days after a nuclear test by Pyongyang.
Fresh from a convincing December election victory and with high approval ratings, Mr Abe has taken small steps toward a harder Japanese stance including moving to step up military spending by the officially pacifist state.
Mr Danny Russel, Mr Obama's top advisor on Asia, said that the United States wanted a diplomatic solution to ease tensions but also reiterated a veiled warning to China over contested islands in the East China Sea.