Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized Friday that he was able to convey "future-oriented" messages on relations with the United States during his state visit to the country, the first by the Asian nation's leader in nine years.

"I believe that I could send such messages through several opportunities, including the Japan-U.S. summit" to the American people and the world, Kishida, who is scheduled to leave the United States on Saturday, told reporters.

At the summit in Washington on Wednesday, Kishida agreed with U.S. President Joe Biden to bolster the bilateral security alliance, with China's increasing military and economic assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region in mind.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters in Raleigh, North Carolina, on April 12, 2024. (Kyodo)

The two leaders also confirmed the necessity of deepening trilateral cooperation involving South Korea to grapple with security threats posed by China and North Korea, which has continued to develop missiles and nuclear weapons.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol's ruling party, however, suffered a crushing setback in Wednesday's general election, dealing a heavy blow to his administration that has expressed eagerness to improve ties with Japan since it was launched in May 2022.

Amid concern that the outcome of the election would affect Japan-South Korea relations, Kishida said the two countries are "critical partners and important neighbors" in tackling global issues, pledging to maintain close communication.

The prime minister will return to Japan on Sunday, with three House of Representatives by-elections to be held on April 28 and his Cabinet's approval ratings at their lowest levels since he took office in October 2021.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party, led by Kishida, has come under intense scrutiny after some of its factions neglected to report portions of their income from fundraising parties and accumulated slush funds for years for their members.

Earlier this month, the LDP, which has been in power for most of the period since its formation in 1955, decided not to field candidates in two of the three by-elections, given the party's low support rates.

Speculation lingers that Kishida may dissolve the lower house as early as June for a snap election to restore his political fortunes ahead of the LDP's presidential race around September.

Asked whether he could dissolve the lower house soon, Kishida said only, "I will place top priority on rebuilding public trust in politics and addressing other challenges that cannot be put off. I am not thinking about anything other than that."

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (2nd from L) is pictured at the site of a battery plant being constructed by Toyota Motor Corp. in North Carolina on April 12, 2024. (Kyodo)

On Friday, Kishida visited the site of a battery plant being constructed by Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's largest automaker by volume, in North Carolina, highlighting his nation's contributions to job creation and investment in the United States.

Kishida agreed at the summit with Biden that mutual investment by their countries is important in spurring global economic growth. Toyota's total investment for the plant has climbed to $13.9 billion, with the factory expected to employ more than 5,000 people.

Political experts said Kishida is seeking to showcase Toyota's involvement in the world's biggest economy, given the possibility that Donald Trump, who has criticized the U.S. trade deficit with Japan, could be reelected president in November.

Japanese automakers have been ramping up their production capacity in the United States so that their electric vehicles are eligible for tax breaks offered under the Biden administration, which requires EVs to be built in North America.

Later Friday, Kishida held a gathering with Japanese university students in the United States. He promised to expand economic support for students studying abroad to mitigate the negative impact of the sharp depreciation of the Japanese yen.

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