Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated the importance of finalizing agreements on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in a historic speech before the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.
"Let us bring the TPP to successful conclusion through our joint leadership," he said in English. "The TPP goes beyond just economic benefit. It is also about our security. Long-term, its strategic value is 'awesome.'"
Abe is the first Japanese leader to address a joint session of Congress. His United States visit comes ahead of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would bring free trade to the United States, Japan and 10 other nations in the region. China notably is not part of the group as member countries would also need to adhere to regulations on intellectual property protection, among other issues.
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In his speech to Congress, Abe emphasized the need for the two countries to work together and "contribute in every respect to the development of Asia. We must spare no effort in working for the peace and prosperity of the region."
On Tuesday, Abe held a press conference with President Barack Obama that said the two countries would lead a "swift and successful conclusion" to the decade-long negotiation on the trade deal.
He said his government is "bringing sweeping reforms to our agricultural cooperatives that have not changed in 60 long years."
He also restated his goal of empowering women in different parts of society "to turn around our depopulation."
"Corporate governance in Japan is now fully in line with global standards because we made it stronger," he said, noting breakthrough regulation in areas such as medicine and energy.
Recent regulatory changes have pushed Japanese firms to increase share buybacks and dividends, supporting the Nikkei to above 20,000 in the last few weeks. The index last topped the psychologically key level in 2000.
The Japanese stock exchange was closed for trading on Wednesday for a Japanese holiday.
—CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.