US President Barack Obama said on Saturday that Japan was a model of the kind of country that should be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
He also said at a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan that he had invited Kan to visit the United States in the first half of 2011 and that the US commitment to Japan's defence was unshakeable.
Obama said Kan had told him about Japan's actions to prepare for eventual membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade initiative and that US and Japanese negotiators would work together.
Washington wants Japan to join the US-backed TPP, but Kan faces an outcry from some lawmakers in his ruling party worried about the anger of politically powerful farm groups who oppose it.
Obama is in Yokohama for an Asia-Pacific economic summit this weekend that also gives him a chance to sit down with Kan and rekindle US-Japan relations that had cooled somewhat last year in a dispute over where to relocate a US Marine base and on concerns that Japan's former prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, might tilt Tokyo's foreign policy more toward China.