Obama's trip will start in Japan, where he will meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and South Korea, where he will meet South Korean President Park Geun-hye. During these meetings, officials will be keeping a close watch on North Korea, where leader Kim Jong-Un could engage in further provocative acts, which North Korea has done during past presidential visits to the region.
In Malaysia, Obama is likely to discuss counter-terrorism issues with which the Muslim majority country has been extremely helpful. They will also discuss Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which is still missing despite exhaustive search efforts from the U.S., Malaysia, and more than 20 other countries.
The trip will end in the Philippines, where the president will continue in talks to provide American ships and planes extensive new access to Filipino ports and bases.
The one country not on the itinerary is China -- a contentious issue for the surrounding countries that believe the U.S. is unwilling to stand against Chinese aggression in the region.
This is one of several efforts to refocus American foreign policy in Asia. Obama had to cancel his scheduled trip to Asia last October, due to the government shutdown. In the past, foreign policy crises have pulled U.S. attention back to the Middle East and Europe. This risk remains a threat, as Obama heads to Asia as tensions in Ukraine continue to increase and the administration weighs imposing further sanctions upon Russia.
[New York Times]
[Wall Street Journal]