At the very beginning of a state visit that should be dominated by a lot of friendly exchanges and goodwill between the two allies, US President Donald Trump on Saturday called Japan to fairer trade relations with his country.
“Japan has had a huge advantage for many, many years but it’s OK and maybe that’s why you love us so much,” Donald Trump told a meeting with leading Japanese bosses, including those in the automotive sector, organized just after his landing in the late afternoon.
Before adding in an allusion to the ongoing discussions to reach a bilateral agreement between the first and third economies of the world that it would become “a little more fair”.
“With this agreement, we hope to overcome the trade imbalance, eliminate barriers to US exports and ensure justice and reciprocity in our relations.” We are approaching, “he said. “We hope to make several new announcements soon including some very big in the coming months”.
Talks were also held Saturday night between Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on the sidelines of the visit.
Last week, Donald Trump postponed by six months the imposition of additional tariffs on imports of Japanese and European cars. But it also aroused irritation that auto giants such as Toyota claimed that US dependence on the foreign auto industry posed a threat to national security.
First foreign leader to meet the new emperor
Since the election of Donald Trump, his protectionist and aggressive economic policies, including against his older allies, have shaken global diplomacy.
Against China or the European Union, which are more offensive, Tokyo, which hopes to negotiate a more favorable agreement, shows more understanding. Shinzo Abe, for his part, cultivates his personal relationship with the American leader, which will result in particular during this trip by a round of golf, a passion shared by the two leaders.
The highlight of Trump’s second trip to Japan will be his Monday meeting with the Emperor, followed by a banquet at the Imperial Palace.
He will be the first foreign leader to meet the new Emperor Naruhito, who did not accede to the Chrysanthemum’s throne until May 1, following the abdication of his father Akihito. The other leaders will have to wait for the festivities organized in October to have this honor.
Another highlight of this visit is the sumo tournament to be attended by Donald Trump on Sunday at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena.
He will give the winner a “Trump Cup”, about thirty kilograms and 1.4 meters high.
One official meeting
On the strictly official and diplomatic level, the trip includes only a brief bilateral meeting with a working lunch on Monday, before a joint press conference. The two leaders will finally visit Tuesday the Yokosuka Common Naval Base.
Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe also plan to meet the families of Japanese abducted in the 1970s and 1980s by North Korea with the aim of turning them into North Korean spy trainers. On this important subject of his domestic policy, Abe had asked Donald Trump to intervene in his discussions with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
While the tensions with China and with Iran, are more alive than ever the program of this trip would be intended according to observers to prove that Donald Trump “knows foreign policy and has many friends”.
For his part, Shinzo Abe went to the White House in April accompanied by his wife Akie. Donald Trump will return to Japan four weeks after this visit, for the G20 summit in Osaka in late June.