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US tightens pressure on Japan for bilateral trade deal

Trump eager to appease American farmers ahead of midterm elections

U.S. President Donald Trump, seen here at the White House on April 12, may push for a free trade deal when he hosts Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. is making a tougher push for Japan to begin talks on a bilateral free trade agreement, exploring demands on foreign exchange policy and exports, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepares to visit the country this week.

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that Japan "has hit us hard on trade for years!" In a report published the following day, the U.S. Treasury Department said it "remains concerned by the persistence of this large bilateral trade imbalance" with Japan. The department cited a nearly $70 billion surplus for Japan last year in terms of goods, though the figure shrinks to $56 billion when services are included.

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