Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set out his vision of Japan as a force to be reckoned with and pledged to revive the nation’s clout amid China’s rising influence in Asia.

Abe declared that “Japan is back” following his first meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington at a time when China’s new leadership is keen to cement the country as the more dominant political force in the region.

“Japan is not, and will never be, a tier-two country,” Abe said in a speech to members of the US foreign policy establishment.

“It is high time, in this age of Asian resurgence, for Japan to bear even more responsibility to promote our shared rules and values.”

Abe has kicked off his administration with a robust start, launching an economic stimulus programme of increased government spending and looser monetary policy that has lifted the Japanese stock market, reports Financial Times.

He pushed for a rare increase in Japan’s military spending and vowed a tough stance on a territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands.

Abe also claimed that a healthier Japanese economy “would be good for the rest of the world” and has moved towards creating a trans-Pacific free-trade zone.

“Soon, Japan will export more, but it will import as well. The US will be the first to benefit, followed by China, India, Indonesia and so on,” Abe said.