Obama, Japanese PM tour Lincoln Memorial
© Getty Images

President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe toured the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Monday, as the Japanese leader kicks off a historic, weeklong visit to the United States.

“This is an opportunity before the formal events tomorrow to spend time together one-on-one at a place of historical significance for the United States, as this month marks both the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s end as well as President Lincoln’s passing,” the White House said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

A National Mall park ranger led the two leaders on the tour.

Abe’s trip to Washington is intended to boost defense and trade ties between the U.S. and Japan. The two nations are working toward finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement with 10 other Pacific Rim nations.

The governments unveiled a new defense partnership Monday that would allow Japan to take a greater military role and act as a counterweight to China.

Abe will also be the first Japanese leader in history to address a joint session of Congress.

But the visit won’t be without some tension. Abe’s views on the Second World War have raised concerns in the U.S. and among Japan's allies in Asia.

Abe has downplayed some abuses carried out by the Japanese government during the war, particularly its recruitment of “comfort women,” who were essentially used as sex slaves by the Japanese military, from South Korea.

The Lincoln Memorial is located directly across the Reflecting Pool from the World War II Memorial honoring U.S. service members who served during the conflict.