China's help remains crucial in efforts to get its neighbor North Korea to stop its nuclear bomb-making.
Obama closes his trip with a visit to South Korea as his administration prepares to send an envoy to Pyongyang for rare direct talks. But the outlook wasn't helped by a naval clash Tuesday in crab-fishing grounds off the Korean Peninsula's western coast.
Pondering this difficult Asian landscape, Obama told NHK he considers himself a child of the Pacific Rim—a native of Hawaii with "fond memories" of visiting Tokyo on the way to Indonesia, where he also lived.
He also closed his interview with a formal thank-you to Japan for the most valuable player at this year's World Series, Hideki Matsui, the one-time Yomiuri Giants star who had three home runs and eight RBIs in the series. Matsui "had an outstanding series," Obama enthused.