US President Barack Obama welcomed the release of Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday, calling her "a hero of mine" and saying it was time for the Myanmar junta to free all political prisoners.

"While the Burmese regime has gone to extraordinary lengths to isolate and silence Aung San Suu Kyi, she has continued her brave fight for democracy, peace, and change in Burma," he said in a statement.

"She is a hero of mine and a source of inspiration for all who work to advance basic human rights in Burma and around the world," said Obama, using the country' former name.

"The United States welcomes her long overdue release," added the president, who is in Japan for a Pacific Rim summit.

"It is time for the Burmese regime to release all political prisoners, not just one. The United States looks forward to the day when all of Burma's people are free from fear and persecution."

Aung San Suu Kyi, who like Obama is a Nobel Peace laureate, walked free Saturday from the lakeside home that has been her prison for most of the past two decades, to the delight of huge crowds of waiting supporters.

"Whether Aung San Suu Kyi is living in the prison of her house, or the prison of her country, does not change the fact that she, and the political opposition she represents, has been systematically silenced, incarcerated, and deprived of any opportunity to engage in political processes that could change Burma," Obama said.

"Following Aung San Suu Kyi's powerful example, we recommit ourselves to remaining steadfast advocates of freedom and human rights for the Burmese people, and accountability for those who continue to oppress them."