Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda plans to visit the United States for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama from April 29 to May 2, sources said Thursday.
The two leaders are expected to issue a joint statement saying the United States and Japan will deepen their alliance in a comprehensive range of fields including security and the economy, taking into account the situation in North Korea and economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, the sources said.
If North Korea goes ahead with its planned rocket launch, how to respond to the reclusive nation, including whether to strengthen sanctions, could become a major agenda item, they said.
The joint statement is likely to stipulate a basic policy on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan based on an interim report scheduled to be compiled this month by the two governments, the sources said.
Noda and Obama are also expected to confirm that Washington and Tokyo will proceed with the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa Prefecture, they added.
On the economic front, the two countries could agree to target as an ultimate goal the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, including China and Russia, a plan that has been promoted by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the sources said.
In addition, Washington and Tokyo are arranging to include in the joint statement a positive phrase regarding Japan’s participation in negotiations on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement, they said.
There has been no formal summit between the two nations’ leaders in Washington since the Democratic Party of Japan, now headed by Noda, swept to power in September 2009.
Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama held informal talks with Obama for only 10 minutes when he visited Washington to take part in a nuclear security summit in April 2010.
Hatoyama’s successor, Naoto Kan, was not able to carry out a trip to the United States as political turmoil grew from partisan criticism of his leadership during the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and his handling of the unprecedented nuclear emergency the disasters triggered at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
The last time a Japanese prime minister held a formal meeting in Washington with Obama was in February 2009, when Taro Aso was the first foreign leader invited to the White House after the president’s inauguration.