Obama's first day in Japan, press conference, dinner at the palace

McClatchy InteractiveApril 23, 2014 

A sign in Tokyo's Metro warns of increased security for President Obama's visit

LESLEY CLARK

— President Obama's will open his first full day on his weeklong trip to Asia with an official arrival ceremony at Japan's Imperial Palace.

Following his arrival, Obama will participate in the inspection of the Guard of Honor, and a state call with the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

He'll get down to the business of the trip -- convincing U.S. allies that the administration's focus on Asia is going to stick -- when he meets later with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Akasaka Palace. The two will also hold a joint press conference, where backers of Obama's ambitious trade package are hoping for news of a breakthrough in negotiations between the two countries.

Obama later will visit the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation to tour and deliver remarks at a youth and science event with students and visit the Meiji Shrine. He'll return to the Imperial Palace Thursday night for the Japanese state dinner and an "after-dinner talk."

The Japanese press and several politicians were miffed by the fact that first lady Michelle Obama isn’t accompanying the president on the state visit -- the first for a U.S. president since former President Bill Clinton in 1996. They noted that the first lady did make a visit last month to rival China, accompanied by her daughters and her mother.

But her absence is unlikely to be a factor if Obama “does a good job framing the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance,” said Michael Green, senior vice president for Asia and Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Police authorities in Tokyo have amped up security for the trip, the Japanese newspaper, The Yomiuri Shimbun reports. About 16,000 police have been mobilized for around-the-clock security checks and about 10,000 surveillance cameras are being used "to keep an eye out for suspicious persons and vehicles."

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