Obama arrives in Japan for 2-day visit

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U.S. President Barack Obama arrived Friday in Tokyo, kicking off a two-day visit to Japan.

Obama is scheduled to hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in a summit meeting later in the day with the strengthening of bilateral alliance and support for Afghan reconstruction likely topping the agenda.

Also among the main topics for discussion is Japan-U.S. cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region as well as on global issues.

According to local media reports, the two leaders will characterize the Japan-U.S. alliance, which is regarded as the foundation of the two nations' relationship, as the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

They are also expected to agree to closely cooperate to move toward a "low-carbon society" in which business can coexist without harming the environment on a global scale.

Obama's visit, however, is overshadowed by tensions on a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that the U.S. has signed to allow around 8,000 troops to remain in Okinawa in southern Japan, which the government has said it would like to change.

On the environment, Hatoyama stated in New York in September that his country will aim to reduce emissions that are damaging to the environment to 25 percent of their 1990 levels by 2020.

In the buildup to an international climate conference in Copenhagen next month, Hatoyama and Obama are likely to discuss Japan's 25 percent cut and look to reach agreements that will allow the two nations to work together to combat climate change.

Afghanistan is also a subject likely to take priority during the talks.

Japan has said that it will not renew the current law allowing its ships to refuel U.S. and allied troops based in Afghanistan in the Indian Ocean in January next year.

After this, Japan has pledged a maximum of 5 billion dollars in aid to the region over the next five years. How that money will be sent and how Japan perceives its role in the Afghanistan conflict are likely to be discussed.

On the nuclear issue, Japan's DPJ-led government has said that it hopes to take a leading role in the fight to abolish nuclear weapons, and Obama has said that he hopes to see a nonnuclear world.

With the global economy still struggling since the credit crisis started in the United States last year, the two leaders will discuss the devaluing of the dollar, stimulus measures and ways of improving trade between the two countries, with Obama likely to press for measures to rectify the trade imbalance between the nations.

On issues concerning the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the two countries are likely to pledge their continued cooperation in six-party talks that aim to see Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear weapons program and cooperate more with the international community.

In recent weeks, media focus in Japan has been on the tensions that have come about due to the DPJ wishing to change the SOFA agreement, and despite efforts to emphasize the alliance between the two countries, the Okinawa issue is likely to receive a lot of attention.

Obama and Hatoyama will hold a joint press conference following the summit meeting.

The U.S. president's visit to Japan is his first since assuming office in January.

Japan is the first leg of Obama's four-country Asian tour, which will also take him to Singapore, China and South Korea.

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