"We have to consider the meaning of this logistics support and we've come to think there's another type of assistance that is more appropriate from Japan," Hatoyama said through a translator. The prime minister cited fighting poverty among the Afghan people as a way the Japanese can be more helpful.
In a statement issued before their press conference, the two leaders agreed to work closely on nuclear non-proliferation issues and said it "remains vital for North Korea and Iran to uphold and adhere to their respective international obligations" on this issue.
Japan announced today that it will host a nuclear security conference for Asian countries in Tokyo in January 2010.
Obama said today that Japan "unique perspective on the issue of nuclear weapons as a consequence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
The ongoing dispute about the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the Japanese island of Okinawa threatened to overshadow the meeting between Obama and Hatoyama.
In 2006, the two nations agreed to shut down the air base and replace it with a facility in a more remote part of the island.
Hatoyama indicated this summer, before his election, that the base should be moved completely off Okinawa, a statement that was greeted positively by residents who have pushed for a reduction in the U.S. presence there.
No final decision on the Okinawa issue is expected on this trip, but today Obama said he and Hatoyama discussed this issue and he hoped a decision would be reached quickly.
"Our goal remains the same – to provide for the defense of Japan with minimal intrusion on the lives of the people who share that space," he said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Japanese counterpart agreed this week to form a committee to resolve the issue.
A senior administration official downplayed the dispute today, calling the issue of Futenma base "one operational subset of a huge, healthy and very complication alliance."
Earlier this week, Jeffrey Bader, National Security Council senior director for East Asian Affairs, said the issue of Futenma was not "ripe for resolution or a focus" of the president's visit and discussion will continue to work out differences.
"I don't see the Okinawa base issue being a dominant or essential issue on the visit," Bader said.
Obama had dinner with Hatoyama this evening. On Saturday he will deliver a speech focusing on the U.S.-Japan alliance and will meet the Emperor and Empress of Japan at the Imperial Palace. The Palace was the seat of the Tokugawa Shoguns who ruled Japan for more than 250 years starting in the early 17th century.
On his way to Asia, Obama stopped to visit U.S. troops at Elmendorf Air Base in Anchorage, Alaska.
The president has not yet decided on a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and delayed the start of this trip in part so he could hold his eighth meeting with his war council.
At Elmendorf AFB, the president spoke directly about his decision to send troops into combat, without specifically mentioning the ongoing debate over Afghanistan.