http://www.npr.org, by Jackie Northam
President Barack Obama holds a bilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at the White House Monday. It's the first such meeting between U.S. and Japanese leaders in three years.
Political turmoil in Japan has led to a constant turnover in leadership — there have been six prime ministers in as many years.
"This will be his fourth Japanese prime minister since he (Obama) came into office in 2009," says Sheila Smith, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "Japan's own domestic inability to have sustained political leadership makes it very difficult for the alliance and it's very hard to say, 'can we have a prime minister for more than one year please'? It does make bilateral cooperation very, very difficult."