"Navigating between the two is a challenge" for Abe, said Japan politics and security expert Brad Glosserman, a visiting professor at Tama University in Tokyo and senior adviser at Honolulu-based think tank Pacific Forum. Glosserman spoke to CNBC on Monday.
Abe will reportedly be accompanied by hundreds of Japanese executives hungry for opportunities in China, Japan's biggest trading partner, even as they share U.S. and European concerns about Chinese economic and business practices.
But Abe, and no doubt many of the business people, will also be looking over their shoulders at U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trump, who has used the threat of tariffs on Japanese vehicles to cajole a reluctant Tokyo into free trade talks, last week tweeted praise for Japan ahead of Abe's trip, including a graphic lauding its investments in the United States.
Glosserman said Abe and other U.S. allies have learned how to ingratiate themselves with Trump.
"But I think that what everyone worries about more than anything else is the degree to which this buys you anything more than temporary solace," he said.