US President Joe Biden arrived Sunday in Japan for the second leg of an Asia trip underlining US commitment to the region but overshadowed by concern that North Korea will test a nuclear weapon after ignoring Washington's attempt at outreach.
Biden, making his first trip to Asia as president, flew from South Korea into Yokota Air Base outside Tokyo, where he will meet with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and emperor on Monday, as well as unveiling a US-led multilateral trade initiative.
On Tuesday, he reinforces the theme of American leadership in the Asia-Pacific by joining the leaders of Australia, India and Japan for a summit of the Quad group.
The trip, which comes as rival China is experiencing significant economic disruption due to Covid outbreaks, has been touted by Washington as a display of US determination to maintain its commercial and military edge across the region.
But hanging over every step of Biden's tour is fear that unpredictable North Korea will test a nuclear-capable missile or a bomb.
Speculation that this might even happen while Biden was just across the border in Seoul did not materialise. However, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that the threat remains.
act, North Korea has the opportunity, as we've said repeatedly, to come to the table."
Pyongyang has so far declined to answer US appeals for dialogue, officials say, even ignoring offers of help to combat a sudden mass outbreak of Covid-19, according to Biden.