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May 28, 2017

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Obama greets Japan PM Noda at White House

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama welcomed Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to the White House Monday, as Japan and the United States look to reinvigorate defense ties after a rocky few years.

The two leaders met amid fears that North Korea will test another nuclear bomb following its failed missile test and with concerns rippling through the Asia-Pacific region about the implications of China's geopolitical rise.

Noda is the first Japanese premier to visit Washington for a solely bilateral visit since the 2009 election of his center-left Democratic Party of Japan sent long-stable relations into a tailspin.

"I would like to exchange views candidly on the vision of a future U.S.-Japan alliance. I want the meeting to be fruitful so that the public can see clear results," Noda told reporters on departure from Tokyo.

Noda and Obama found common cause in pressing North Korea, which has threatened to retaliate and to reduce parts of South Korea to ashes due to the uproar over Pyongyang's defiant but failed rocket launch on April 13.

"What I've tried to do since I came into office (is) to make sure that North Koreans understand that the old pattern of provocation that then gets attention and somehow insists on the world purchasing good behavior from them, that that pattern is broken," Obama said.

"The more you engage in provocative acts, the more isolated you will become, the stronger sanctions will be in place," Obama said.

The allies announced on Friday an agreement to move 9,000 Marines from Japanese island of Okinawa to the U.S. territory of Guam, addressing a persistent source of friction. Tiny Okinawa is host to half of the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan.

As part of the agreement, the two countries said they would consider setting up their first permanent joint training bases in Guam or the nearby Northern Mariana Islands. The move would carry heavy symbolism for Japan, which has been officially pacifist since the end of World War II.

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