Oil and gas provided thick context to a meeting at the White House Feb. 22 between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama. Fluid hydrocarbons figured in two of three headline topics of discussion. Abe was known to want to discuss Japan’s inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement involving the US and several Southeast Asian countries. US automakers want access to the Japanese vehicle market to be a condition of any trade pact with the country. A trade agreement would facilitate approval by the Department of Energy of LNG export projects targeting sales to Japanese companies. Already the world’s largest importer of LNG, Japan needs more gas than ever.