Saturday, October 1, 2022

Trump to reaffirm security commitment to Japan PM

By on February 9, 2017

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump had a head start building rapport at a previous meeting, and hope to build on it in Washington on Friday. But Trump's words and views don't always align with what's said in Japan: ___ TRADE — "Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax." Trump, in a tweet Jan. 6. — "We are already producing extremely large numbers of cars in the U.S. We are one of the American manufacturers, aren't we? I hope President Trump understands that." Toyota President Akio Toyoda on Feb. 2. — The Details: Nearly 60 percent of the vehicles sold by Japanese automakers in the U.S. are made in America, but trade data show Japan exports 87 times more vehicles to the U.S. than it imports from there. Japan says U.S. automakers don't do enough to make their cars attractive in Japan, for example by equipping them with right-hand drive for Japan's roads. ___ EXCHANGE RATES — "Every other country lives on devaluation. You look at what China's doing, you look at what Japan has done over the years. They play the money market, they play the devaluation market and we sit there like a bunch of dummies." Trump, speaking to U.S. business executives on Jan. 31. — "I think that completely misses the mark. ... Our monetary easing policy is intended to stabilize prices, not to weaken the yen against the U.S. dollar." Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga on Feb. 1. — The Details: The yen fell sharply as Japan's central bank injected hundreds of trillions of yen into the sluggish economy through asset purchases meant to spur inflation. But economists say market factors are the largest influence on exchange rates, so the Bank of Japan has little control over the yen's value. The last time Japan intervened to support the yen was after its 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. ___ SECURITY — "We defend Japan, we defend Germany, we defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia. We defend countries. They do not pay us what they should be paying us because we are providing a tremendous service and we're losing a fortune." Trump, at a presidential candidate debate on Sept. 26. — "Based upon the agreement between the two countries, appropriate burden sharing is happening." Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Feb. 4. — The Details: The new U.S. secretaries of state and defense have reassured Japan after Trump's comments raised worries about his commitment to the U.S.-Japan alliance. Both affirmed that America is obliged to defend Japan, including a group of islands also claimed by China. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described Japan as "a model of cost-sharing" that "we can point to ... as an example for other nations to follow."

FILE – In this Oct. 1, 2015, file photo, sailors of U.S. navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan man the rails upon arrival as a U.S. flag-shaped balloon is hoisted to welcome them at the U.S. Navy’s Yokosuka base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo. When they meet on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in Washington, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump will be tackling issues where the two sides are unlikely to see eye-to-eye, based on Trump’s recent comments. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

President Donald Trump will reaffirm America’s commitment to its security alliance with Japan when the nation’s prime minister visits the White House Friday, a senior U.S official said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be seeking reassurance from the new president on the U.S. role in Asia, while offering job-creating Japanese investment in the United States to shore up economic ties. Abe will be only the second foreign leader to meet with Trump since the Republican took office last month.

The official said the Trump administration is upholding the U.S. position that its defense treaty with Japan applies to East China Sea islands disputed by Japan and China — a stance opposed by Beijing. The president is expected to speak on that subject, the official said.

The official briefed reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss planning for the trip before Abe arrives late Thursday. Abe is hoping to build a rapport with the former reality TV star, whom he met in New York in November, shortly after Trump’s election victory upended U.S. politics.

Their Oval Office meeting Friday will be followed by a joint press conference and a working lunch. Trump will then host Abe and his wife at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. The pair are scheduled to play golf on Saturday.

Trump’s “America First” rhetoric and campaign trail demands that allies pay more for their own defense sowed doubts in Tokyo about the new administration’s commitment to an alliance that has underpinned security in the Asia-Pacific since the end of World War II and which Abe has sought to strengthen.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis allayed many of those concerns during a trip last week to Japan and South Korea. Both countries host tens of thousands of U.S. forces — seen as a deterrent against the nuclear threat from North Korea and China’s growing assertiveness.

The economic side of the U.S.-Japan relationship is more uncertain.

One of Trump’s first actions as president was to withdraw the U.S. from a 12-nation, trans-Pacific trade agreement that was negotiated by the Obama administration and strongly supported by Tokyo.

Trump has also criticized Toyota Motor Corp. for planning to build an assembly plant in Mexico, complained Japanese don’t buy enough U.S.-made cars, and accused Japan of engineering its monetary policies to help Japanese exporters, although Tokyo denies manipulating its currency.

Japanese companies are already major employers in the U.S., and Japanese officials say they are hammering out a job-creation package of infrastructure investments to propose during Abe’s visit. Japanese media have reported key areas of investment may include building high-speed trains, joint development of robotics, artificial intelligence and space technologies and ramping up imports of U.S. natural gas in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

Abe has said that Japan may be open to a bilateral trade deal with the U.S., which is Trump’s preference, but reaching such a deal would be political difficult. Japan logged the second largest trade surplus with the U.S. last year, similar to the surpluses of Germany and Mexico, but far smaller than China’s.

The U.S. official deferred to Japan’s government on possible economic outcomes of the summit, but said Abe is well-acquainted with President Trump’s priorities when it comes to creating jobs.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login