Tokyo is the first stop of Panetta’s weeklong trip to the East Asia region, which will include visits to China and New Zealand.
Panetta said he will urge countries of the region, especially China, to find ways to peacefully resolve their disputes.
Protests against Japan have erupted across China over the past days over a long-running dispute on a group of uninhabited islands in East China Sea.
During his visit to Japan, the American defense secretary plans to discuss with officials in Tokyo the controversial deployment of 12 V-22 Osprey aircraft to the country.
Thousands of Japanese have protested the hybrid aircraft’s planned deployment in their nation, questioning its safety record.