Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday became just the second Japanese leader to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, using his speech to voice concern about a possible American retreat from its position as the global defender of democracy and pledging to stand side-by-side with the United States.

In a speech delivered in English, Kishida — who attended his first three years of elementary school in Queens, New York — praised the U.S. for shaping the global order that helped Japan and others rise from the ashes of World War II while championing freedom.

But in an appeal to one issue that has united a divided Congress, Kishida also warned of the risks posed by Chinese military actions, which he called “the greatest strategic challenge, not only to the peace and security of Japan but to the peace and stability” of the world.