Trump, Abe Discuss Security, Investments, Trade
The prime minister of Japan visited with President Donald Trump yesterday at the White House before jetting off to Florida for a weekend of golf and, presumably, business.
After an initial meeting on Friday, the two leaders met the press, where Trump uttered a few platitudes about being “committed to strengthening our alliance…and a fully engaged partnership,” and “promoting shared interests including freedom of navigation and defending against the North Korean missile and nuclear threat.”
Trump also mentioned he would strive for “trade that is free fair and reciprocal.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the other hand, held back less on what was on his mind. Besides security concerns, Abe made it clear he was in the US to promote Japanese investments and trade.
The subtext for many of Abe’s remarks was Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a project the Japanese saw as a US-Japanese partnership which solidified the relations between the two countries. Some Japan experts viewed the TPP withdrawal as favoring Chinese interests over Japan’s.
But if Abe saw recent developments as a setback, he didn’t let it on. He has made it clear since before Trump’s inauguration that he is throwing in his lot with the US and Trump, not that he has many alternatives. On the trade front, Japan wants to continue in partnership with the US to counter China’s influence.
Abe noted that Japanese companies have invested over $150 billion in the United States in the last year and that they are interested in further opportunities. He said he expected the president, whom repeatedly referred to as Donald, to use his business acumen to facilitate those opportunities.
Abe referred to Trump’s proposed infrastructure investment proposal when he promoted Japanese high-speed train technology, suggesting the US ought to be investing in that and commenting that the relevant Japanese companies would be interested in investing in production facilities stateside. (One report indicates that new Japanese investments in high-speed train technology and other facilities could generate 700,00 new US jobs.)
He added that US passengers will appreciate the “speed and comfort” of the high-speed maglev trains and that a New York-to-Washington trip would be cut to one hour.
The Asia-Pacific region has seen dramatic growth, Abe noted, adding that “trade and investment must be done in a fair matter.”
“Never should a state-owned company be permitted to intervene in the economy,” he added, an obvious reference to Chinese practices, nor should anyone get a “free ride on intellectual property,” another rhetorical strike against China.
“We need to work closely together on global issues going forward,” Abe concluded, perhaps referring to Trump‘s unilateral withdrawal from TPP, “and work with the international community to execute responsibility in a commensurate manner.”