Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Tuesday warned of an increasingly severe security environment in Asia amid raging territorial disputes, as he met US President Barack Obama.
The Japanese leader, widely expected to lose power in an election next month, held talks with Obama on the sidelines of the East Asia summit in Cambodia, and praised the US leader's foreign policy pivot towards the region.
"I welcome the US policy of placing importance on the Asia-Pacific region," Noda said, speaking through a translator.
"With the increasing severity of the security environment in East Asia, the importance of the Japan-US alliance is increasing."
Obama, who faces the prospect of building ties with another Japanese government as Noda's centre-left administration faces defeat in the election, concentrated on the enduring strength of US-Japan relations.
"This becomes another opportunity for us to reaffirm the extraordinary alliance," he said.
Obama, who often bills foreign trips as a trade-related extension of his effort to restore prosperity at home, said the two leaders would discuss "economic issues that the world is facing right now".
He added it was "very important" for the allies to "coordinate effectively" on trade, investment and jobs.
Noda's comments referred to a flurry of territorial disputes that are increasing tensions in Asia, and drawing the United States as a guarantor of the freedom of maritime navigation, into indirect conflict with rising China.
Tokyo and Beijing are locked in a row over the sovereignty of an archipelago in the East China Sea, while Japan and South Korea are in dispute over who owns a pair of islands in waters between the two countries.
Japan also has a longstanding dispute with Russia over the Kuril islands.
China, meanwhile claims sovereignty over virtually all of the South China Sea, and is resisting efforts to negotiate directly with Southeast Asian neighbors, which also have territorial claims.