Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday became the first sitting Japanese leader to set foot on a U.S. aircraft carrier when he boarded the USS Ronald Reagan, which arrived at its new home port at Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture earlier this month.

The move — coming almost a month to the day since the Diet enacted highly divisive security laws — is apparently aimed at showing off the bilateral military alliance. The laws will for the first time since World War II allow the Self-Defense Forces to come to the aid of allies under armed attack, giving Japan a freer hand in the defense arena.

Earlier, Abe attended a Maritime Self-Defense Force fleet review in Sagami Bay and called the U.S. flattop "a tomodachi (friend) who rushed to the rescue at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake. I give it a hearty welcome."