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“But I also think what they did on North Korea was a big deal because of the way they did it,” he added. “They don’t normally do joint press [statements]. They also don’t issue that kind of a joint statement.”

With regard to the fight against climate change caused by what environmental scientists call “greenhouse gas” — specifically carbon dioxide from burning oil, coal and other fossil fuels — the Obama administration appears eager to bring China deeply into the fold of efforts already being pursued by the Japan and the U.S.

A joint U.S.-Japan statement over the weekend said the two nations “share the view that anthropogenic climate change represents a threat to the security and economic development of all nations.”

“We plan to deepen our mutual engagement in advancing low-carbon growth,” said the statement, circulated to reporters after Mr. Kerry had visited with Japanese students, who recently designed a car fueled by nothing but light from the sun.

Awed by the vehicle, whose futuristic design includes a streamlined roof covered by sleek solar panels, Mr. Kerry told the students that the big goal is to get cars like it on the road for common people to drive.