One of the most advanced U.S. aircraft carriers has docked at its new home in Japan - the latest sign of deepening military ties between Washington and Tokyo.
The nuclear-powered, Nimitz-class USS Ronald Reagan was welcomed by Japanese officials as it arrived in the port of Yokosuka on Thursday, one day ahead of schedule.
At a ceremony, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said the substance and symbolism of the carrier's presence "cannot be overstated."
The USS Ronald Reagan is one of only 10 Nimitz-class U.S. aircraft carriers in existence. It replaces the USS George Washington, which is headed back to the U.S. for maintenance work and upgrades.
In a statement, Japan's foreign ministry welcomed the arrival of the carrier, saying it will "contribute to the security of Japan and the maintenance of peace and security of the region."
Some local groups have expressed opposition to the carrier's presence. On Thursday, a group of protesters in a small boat sailed next to the massive warship with a sign that read, "You are not welcome here."
There has long been some local resistance to the U.S.-Japan defense alliance, which has placed nearly 50,000 American troops and some of Washington's most expensive military hardware in the country.
Congress Temporarily Funds US Government, Avoids Shutdown
With just hours to spare, Congress has averted a partial U.S. government shutdown by passing a stopgap spending bill to keep federal agencies open past a midnight funding deadline.
The House of Representatives approved the measure 271-151. Earlier Wednesday, it cleared the Senate 78-20. The bill, which extends the government's spending authority until December 11, now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature.
"The most important thing we can do is keep the government open for business and continue vital programs that all Americans rely on," said Republican Congressman Hal Rogers. "This legislation is the best path forward at this time, but we all know it is only a Band-Aid."
The two congressional votes averted a partial government shutdown, similiar to the standoff two years ago, that resulted in shuttered government offices for more than two weeks, in an ideological dispute over a federal health program.