But what should be done to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons? Most Americans supports tougher sanctions, and Washington has leaned heavily on Tokyo to reduce oil imports from Iran (which it has), a topic Abe may hear more about in Washington. But those Japanese opposed to Tehran's nuclear ambitions are less supportive of such economic penalties, and this difference in opinion may weigh on the Abe government's willingness to ratchet up Iranian sanctions in the months ahead.
Japanese and Americans also differ on the use of military force to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. Fully 63 percent of Americans who oppose Tehran's nuclear ambitions would consider such action, while only 40 percent of Japanese agree.
Ultimately, the U.S.-Japan relationship has gone through numerous ups and downs in the last few decades. Americans' fears that Japan Inc. will overwhelm them have subsided. Yet challenges remain: how to jointly deal with China, North Korea and Iran, and whether Tokyo will join with other Asian governments and Washington in creating a transpacific free trade area.
The Abe-Obama summit cannot be expected to resolve all these differences. But the Japanese and American people are more predisposed to resolve their differences than they have been for years. The summit could not be happening at a more opportune and critical time.