President Obama is currently attending the APEC (Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation) Conference in Singapore. Essentially, this is a meeting of representatives of the nations of South East Asia. There are several reasons for this meeting. The first would be economic. This particular area of the world is an economic force in the world with which acknowledgement of this fact is absolute. China and India both have independent populations of over a billion people. Japan is another critical economic force in the region. The Asian market is a massive consumer market. Asian markets are attractive to companies in the United States, and in a globalized economic setting, there has to be some level of agreement between the West and these economic forces. The President spoke of aligning economic goals, such as ensuring that government oversight of business and banking practices is as strong of an element in the Asian business community as it is in America. Another topic discussed is American receptivity to the strength of China. The President recently argued that a strong China is not a threat to the United States, proving that America is involved in Asian affairs. Finally, the Conference allows the President to offer partnership in helping to alleviate the challenges of the environment with the nations in Asia.
There are lots of reasons for the President to go to Asia. While there, he will go to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea. All of these are important to the US (although his main reason to go to Singapore is to attend a meeting of Asian-Pacific Nations.
Japan is our oldest ally in East Asia. We have lots of military bases there and their economy is important to us. They are also concerned with North Korea and what is going on there.
South Korea is important to the US because we have thousands of soldiers there and because of the bad relationship we have with North Korea (and because of the bad relationship between the two Koreas).
China has huge amounts of trade with us, lends us lots of money, and is a rising power.
So it's really important for the US to maintain good relations with all these countries.