Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso vowed on Tuesday to strive for a stronger alliance with the United States as Barack Obama was sworn in as the US president.
"Japan and the United States are allies who share universal values and strategic interests," Aso said in a statement congratulating Obama on his inauguration.
"I am convinced that Japan and the United States, both in a position to lead the world, can build a better future by working together to share knowledge, willingness, passion and strategy," he said.
"With this belief, I wish to join hands with President Obama in further strengthening the Japan-US alliance and striving for peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world."
Aso took office last September, replacing the unpopular Yasuo Fukuda who quit as his ruling Liberal-Democratic Party prepared to face a resurgent opposition camp ahead of a general election that has to be held before September this year.
"I hope that President Obama will exercise his excellent leadership and produce great results in overcoming various problems, including the tough economic situation," the statement said.
Tokyo's ties with Washington reached new heights under Junichiro Koizumi, who cultivated a close relationship with outgoing US president George W. Bush while he was prime minister between 2001 and 2006.
Koizumi had sent ground forces into Iraq, a move that marked the first time since 1945 that Japan had deployed troops to a country where there was fighting. He withdrew the troops, who were on a non-combat reconstruction mission, before leaving office.
But the trans-Pacific alliance suffered after Washington removed North Korea from its blacklist of terrorism-sponsoring states in October, despite objections from Japan.
Tokyo demands that Pyongyang comes clean on the fate of Japanese citizens who were kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s to train spies in Japanese culture and language.