Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential Republican U.S. presidential candidate, kicked off a four-nation tour on Monday by offering effusive praise for Japan’s efforts to boost defense spending, during a meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo.

The two-day trip by DeSantis, who is widely expected to battle former U.S. President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination next year, is seen as an attempt to bolster his defense and diplomatic chops before throwing his hat into the ring.

“We very much applaud your efforts to bolster your defenses,” DeSantis told Kishida ahead of their meeting, lauding the U.S.-Japan alliance as “essential” for the security of the region.