LOS ANGELES - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the United States is seen to have paved the way to broader Japan-US exchanges in a wide range of fields, such as education, science and technology.
Abe completed the agenda for the seven-day US tour Saturday morning.
During the tour, Abe held a Japan-US summit meeting with President Barack Obama in which they confirmed they would strengthen the bilateral alliance. In his speech to the US Congress, Abe expressed "deep remorse" for Japan's actions in World War II, and the remarks were accepted positively in the United States.
Abe also went to Boston, Silicon Valley and other places seeking to expand the range of Japan-US ties.
"Until recently, Japanese prime ministers repeatedly went to Washington and returned [straight] to Tokyo. That was because they had to resign in a year. Fortunately, I have served for 2½ years and thus have had opportunities to visit other cities." Abe told attendees of a luncheon meeting with Japanese and US company executives in Los Angeles on Friday, inviting laughter.
Abe's visits to US cities besides Washington and New York were the first since such tours were made by then Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi in 1999 and by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2006.
Because Japanese administrations were short-lived in recent years, a government source said, "They didn't have enough time to visit other areas of the United States."
California has especially strong ties with Japan because the state has the largest population of Japanese-Americans in the country, with about 400,000. In addition, more than 670 Japanese companies have operations in the southern part of the state.
Abe visited Silicon Valley in the suburbs of San Francisco, where information technology companies are concentrated. He encouraged business leaders there to invest in Japan more proactively. He also met with the state's governor to pitch Japan's Shinkansen bullet train system for the state government's plan to build a high-speed railway.
Protest rallies against his visit were held in Los Angeles and some other cities with a large number of Chinese- and Korean-Americans. But in general, Abe was warmly welcomed, mainly by local communities of Japanese-Americans.
A source who accompanied the prime minister said, "Though the summit meeting in Washington was of course important, it is of great significance that the prime minister directly met various people in other US cities."
Abe seemed to deepen his confidence about the Japan-US summit meeting on Tuesday and his address to the US Congress on Wednesday.
In a lecture Friday in Los Angeles, Abe said that the Japan-US alliance has become stronger than any time in the past, and unless the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific regions can be secured, the stability of Japan cannot be secured. Abe added that the key to Japan's security is the Japan-US alliance.
About new guidelines for defence co-operation, which were announced by the Japanese and US governments on April 27, and Japan's security legislative arrangements, Abe told reporters accompanying him on the tour, "They are [for] better functioning of the Japan-US alliance."
Abe said emphatically, "The security-related legislation is aimed at ensuring the protection and happiness of the people."
Abe returns home
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to Japan from the United States on Sunday. Abe arrived at Haneda Airport aboard a government plane in the afternoon.