Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in the United States on Monday for the first state visit by a Japanese leader in nine years, underscoring the increasing importance of the alliance between the two countries.

Kishida is scheduled to hold a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday in Washington and will address a joint session of the Congress the following day, according to Japanese government officials.

Kishida, who is slated to return to Tokyo on Sunday, is expected to reaffirm with Biden the significance of Japan-U.S. cooperation in various areas ranging from security and state-of-the-art technologies to the strengthening of supply chains, the officials said.

"I would like to confirm that Japan and the United States have built a more solid relationship, and it will be an important opportunity to convey this message to the world," Kishida told reporters before departing Tokyo.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (center L) arrives at Joint Base Andrews, near Washington, on April 8, 2024. (Kyodo)

Kishida has said that his state visit to the United States will help bolster the bilateral alliance, and he is to become Japan's first prime minister to deliver a speech at the U.S. Congress since Shinzo Abe, who did so in April 2015.

Addresses given by foreign dignitaries to joint sessions of the U.S. Congress have taken place on special occasions. During Barack Obama's presidency, Abe, who was gunned down in July 2022, became the first Japanese premier to make such a speech.

Abe said in his address that he would stick to statements made by his predecessors in expressing "deep remorse" over Japan's wartime behavior, admitting that the nation's actions "brought suffering to the peoples" of other Asian countries before and during World War II.

The theme of Kishida's speech on Thursday is likely to be "future-oriented," and it is believed that he will stress how the partnership between Japan and the United States is crucial in maintaining a free and open international order, one of the officials said.

As Kishida represents a constituency in Hiroshima, a city that was devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb in August 1945, there is a focus on whether he will touch on his vision of a world without nuclear weapons when he appears in the legislature.

In 2015, Abe and Obama agreed to boost the Japan-U.S. alliance to promote peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and tackle security challenges. Shortly after, the two nations updated their defense cooperation guidelines for the first time in 18 years.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meets the press at the premier's office in Tokyo on April 8, 2024, before his trip to the United States as a state guest. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Kishida and Biden will also pledge to reinforce defense relations in East Asia amid China's growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, the government officials said.

On Thursday, Kishida and Biden are set to hold an unprecedented trilateral summit involving Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in response to the increasingly unstable security environment in Asia, the officials added.

During his trip to the United States, Kishida is planning to visit North Carolina, with Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's biggest automaker by volume, constructing a new battery plant in the southeastern state to beef up its electric vehicle line.

Kishida is eager to showcase Toyota's contribution to job creation and investment in the United States due to the possibility Donald Trump, who in the past has criticized his country's trade deficit with Japan, may be re-elected as president in November.

When a Japanese prime minister makes an official trip to the United States, it is customary to visit other cities outside the capital. Abe visited Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2015. In 2006, then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Memphis.

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