President Obama Opens Japan Visit at Famous Sushi Restaurant

Obama seeks to ease Asian allies' doubts during visit to Japan.
3:00 | 04/23/14

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Transcript for President Obama Opens Japan Visit at Famous Sushi Restaurant
This is a special room. Yeah yeah. Some sushi diplomacy President Obama treated to a three Michelin star restaurant. By Japanese prime minister shin-soo -- -- and Tokyo hello everyone I'm Michelle Franzen in New York. Japan as president Obama's first pit stop in the weeklong Asia trip. Trying to hammer out a trade deal between 12 Pacific countries and reduce China's influence in the region. The BBC's Rupert Greenfield Hayes has more from Tokyo. It's been eighteen years since the US president walked off and force one on a state visit to Japan. In that time the whole map -- -- has been transformed by the drawings of China. Outs in the Sea of Japan the US seventh fleet is still the most powerful navy in Asia. -- just so -- is by the USS Bonham Rashad still guarantee Japan security. -- Good thing. Filed with the. This Chinese coaches deep inside Japanese what is and refusing to stop. China is becoming much more aggressive and a seventeen claims to Japanese controlled islands. In the eastern city and depends -- America may be doing so. There was a real -- that they need the Americans might be entangled. In -- An actual home. Simply be cool -- -- with the school this. Confrontation between China and Japan. Both the -- -- few islands. And Democrats backed off. It's not about the sisal in the history. Capability which is immense schools -- there -- with the Americans. America has 27000. Marines based in Japan. They commander tells me they have both the will and the means. Messages that the US sticks by its allies and I I landed on this beach thirty years ago -- the young lieutenant so. This this shows are staying power the strength of these alliance. It's exactly what Japan wants to hear what they want to hear it now from the US commander in chief himself. Rupert Winfield Hays BBC news in Tokyo. For more on the president's trip abroad I want to bring an ABC news political director -- clock recliner in Washington Rick thanks for joining us. -- with the entire trip is about curbing China's influence in the region will the soft power be enough to stop Chinese expansion what's so. Interesting about -- -- is that the president is dancing around China quite literally going elsewhere in the region but not setting foot. In that enormous be -- -- of a country that dominates so much of Asia so yes a lot of this is about countering China's influence reassuring our allies that. We will be tough with China when the time is necessary. And because of such a critical time in the relationship when you realize what's going on Russia how that impacts of our allies the Japanese very suspicious very worried about the US relationship right now. So yes a lot of symbolism in this visit. And a lot of symbolism and where the president is not setting -- as well. And given that concern that Japan has how strong is the alliance between Japan and the and the US. I think it's I think it's rather unshakable right now but it is not without concerns on both sides and I think that's what's behind -- strip. Japanese officials that we've talked to ABC -- -- -- -- we know with a were friends. Koppel we like to see -- every once -- while we -- to get some assurances and I think that China relationship is the big piece of that and I think. -- -- he's not going at a time of extreme tension to go smooth things over. But the little -- -- matter and the president taking this time when we we know that it's being. The decade and a -- is a president actually made it isn't like this. It means something and I think particularly Japanese this is that they have this the long history of a partnership of the United States. To me that the first step that's also a -- a lot of the president's trip focusing around something called the trans Pacific partnership. What is that exactly. Yet that's that's and not a number Asian partners that you can bring together on trade issues and I think it's seen as. -- -- and not just to China potentially but also to Russia to be able to come back with something that's deliverable to say. This is something that we are working together on trade issues but this is not a trip that is going to be focused on what the diplomatic community calls the deliverables. A lot of ground work for late for this already as is typical with diplomatic trips. A lot more about the symbolism than even the substance that sounds very reminiscent of NAFTA doesn't support here at home. You know I don't think it's been -- was extensively here but I think it is something that is viewed skeptically generally by the American public a lot of trade pacts are. I -- -- unions that are that have a complicated relationship with him as well. And of course this trip was extremely overdue the president was supposed to go on this tour last fall that got delayed because of the government shut down and how important is this trip. To the White House then what does it mean that. It was delayed. I think they knew that they had to make it happen in this president has been snake bitten by events in terms of world travel and you mentioned this this trip being on the books. Since -- since last year with the government shut down it was important make it happen this time a lot of skepticism in Asia about how much of a priority this was. I would put this in the category of an important box to check for this president for this administration to -- got this done to save you. Were able to attend to these countries attend the summits and make sure you have the right kind of meetings. Back to this issue for a moment the -- President Obama went to is actually pretty famous. And we heard President Obama earlier saying how much she enjoyed the sushi but not all presidents have had such an enjoyable meal in Japan of course remember. For president George H. W. Bush comes to mind. That's right now I think that we all remember that image -- for better or for worse and maybe maybe for both of those things. This sushi that he enjoyed today -- -- is a very famous for fired Euro -- Who is now close -- -- years old it is known rather rather widely is the best sushi in the world and it's an interesting setting it's actually at a small ten -- restaurant that is in the basement of an office building next to a subway entrance in Tokyo. -- not assuming it all in in any of in any of its surroundings with a 300 dollar tasting menu. And it catches you got even in twenty minutes now we don't know if the president had -- had a little bit more time to enjoy his sushi than a regular -- patron of the restaurant would but. -- is -- when I read the pool report about the -- and look that up. I ended up having sushi for lunch. Might cost about fifteen bucks instead but I gotta say giant -- quite a bit in honor of the president's trip. And even a documentary made about this is shipped himself. This is supposedly a weeklong trip of course where -- -- the president heading. I -- -- of you throughout the region I believe I believe Malaysia is the next stop and I think -- -- the important thing here if you look at a map of where he's going places like the Philippines. They again China novelist who -- China probably the end of the year but not as part of -- -- -- in Washington thank you very much for joining us. And you've been watching an ABC news digital special report on the -- France and here in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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