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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, is greeted by U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Friday.   © Reuters
Economy

Abe, Trump start talks to affirm alliance

Japan-US summit also expected to cover currency, trade

TSUYOSHI NAGASAWA, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

WASHINGTON -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to call for greater economic dialogue and a stronger security alliance in a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump here Friday, but he could face tough demands involving automobile exports.

The two leaders began their first summit at the White House.

Trade, particularly in motor vehicles, is expected to feature heavily in the talks. Abe will explain how Japanese corporations have invested and created jobs in the U.S. and will call for increased economic ties, according to Japanese officials.

"I hope this trip will bring about a new economic relationship between Japan and the U.S.," Abe said at a Friday roundtable at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. More than 70% of Toyota Motor cars and more than 90% of Honda Motor vehicles on American roads were produced locally, and Japanese companies have created 840,000 jobs in the U.S., he pointed out.

Part of Abe's strategy seems to be to divert U.S. attacks to China. "Steel prices have fallen globally because of overproduction in a certain country," Abe said in a veiled criticism of China. "And unless rules regarding intellectual property are fully implemented, the fruits of innovation will be undermined."

"We can compete and grow under fair trade rules that are shared across the world," he said.

Japan wants to establish a new framework for economic talks headed by Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in order to draw up trade and investment rules that ensure open markets. Monetary policy could also be discussed, a top U.S. official said.

On national security, Abe is expected to talk about the bilateral alliance and the importance of cooperating with countries holding shared values.

Aso and Pence met at the White House before the summit. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida also spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, explaining that the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade pact has both economic and strategic value. Tillerson stated that the Japanese-controlled, Chinese-claimed Senkaku Islands were protected under the Japan-U.S. security treaty. The foreign policy chiefs agreed on the importance of the bilateral alliance amid a tough security landscape in East Asia, as well as on three-way cooperation with South Korea in response to the North Korean threat.

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