Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden announced a “new era” for their countries’ alliance during a state visit to Washington by the Japanese leader on Wednesday, with the pair heralding a historic upgrade of defense ties as they look to beef up Tokyo’s role in countering China’s growing assertiveness.

The state visit — which includes all the fanfare, from a military honor guard in full regalia and a swanky black tie banquet — was the culmination of years of deepening cooperation under Biden and Kishida that has taken the U.S.-Japan relationship to new heights.

“Over the last three years, the partnership between Japan and the United States has been transformed into a truly global partnership,” Biden said ahead of talks with Kishida at the White House.