Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he is committed to making his country a strong ally of the United States as it faces new security challenges from North Korea and China.
U.S. President Barack Obama on February 22 joined Abe in warning that the two allies are committed to "strong actions" in response to North Korea's latest nuclear test earlier this month.
Later in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, Abe urged a tougher international stand against Pyongyang.
"[North Koreas's] nuclear ambitions should not be tolerated. Unless they give up on developing a nuclear arsenal, missile technologies, and release all the Japanese students they abducted, my government will give them no reward," Abe said.
"This is no regional matter but a global one. Japan on my watch should work hard with the U.S., South Korea, others, and the United Nations to stop them from seeking those ambitions."
In a clear signal to China, the Japanese leader said that his country does not want an escalation with Beijing. Abe said he told Obama that Japan would act "calmly" in the dispute over a group of tiny islands in the East China Sea.
But he said it will not tolerate challenges to its sovereignty over the islands.
"Concerning the Asia-Pacific region, we agreed that we would have to work together to maintain freedom of the seas and also that we would have to create a region that is governed, not based on force, but based on international law," Abe said.
The islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China are controlled by Japan but claimed by both Asian countries.
Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters