LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The prime minister of Japan arrived Friday in Los Angeles to promote expanded trade between his country and the United States.
Shinzo Abe traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier in the week, where he was welcomed back to the White House.
He and his wife arrived at Los Angeles International Airport just after 11 a.m. and were greeted by Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA's first lady.
"It's a privilege to welcome you and your wife here, and I ask everyone to join me in welcoming the great prime minister of the state of Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe," said Garcetti during a luncheon at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Pershing Square. Guests included U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.
"Japan is our No. 2 trading partner," said Garcetti in expressing the close ties between Japan and LA.
"And 30 percent of all the trade that comes into our country comes through Los Angeles from Japan," he said.
Shinzo Abe said through an interpreter he was happy to be back in L.A., where he studied in the late 1970s.
But outside the hotel, about 300 protesters gathered to demand an apology from the prime minister.
"We are here to protest against Japanese government denying sex slaves they used. 200,000 of them during the second World War without their permission," said Paul Jhin, a protester.
Inside, the prime minister praised the relationships between Japan, L.A., California and the U.S. as they work to bolster trade agreements.
First lady Akie Abe visited Homeboy Industries to see the group's efforts in keeping young people employed and out of gangs.
The prime minister's visit to L.A. is expected to conclude Saturday.
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