Today, President Obama departed for Asia on his eighth trip abroad this year. His first stop is Tokyo, where he's hoping to repair strained ties with a longtime ally.
The new Japanese leaders will greet him with konichiwas and bows and a few raised eyebrows. A feud over a military base in Okinawa is a symptom of a much larger problem - that Japan and the United States may be drifting apart on some significant policy matters.
A new political party controls Japan for the first time in 50 years, and along with that change will come some growing pains - but Japan's friendship is critical to U.S. strategy in Asia.
Rather than a canal, perhaps President Obama can repair a bridge that has joined the two nations since the end of World War Two.
That's a page from my notebook.
I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.
© 2009 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.