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Japanese PM made three-day visit to U.S.

Japanese PM made three-day visit to U.S.Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might have got exactly what he wanted during his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, according to The Japan Times on Monday.

Abe’s three-day visit to the United States, the first since Trump's inauguration, was marked by friendly overtones and included two nights of dinners in a row and golfing in Palm Beach, Florida, where the president hosted the Japanese leader at his winter estate. Trump gave assurances to Abe over the bilateral security alliance while remaining silent over his earlier aggressive criticism of Japan over trade and currency issues.

But if Trump had merely tamed his protectionist pitch to play up his friendly rapport with Abe, those issues may have just been set aside to be taken up later in the “bilateral dialogue framework” that the two leaders agreed to create to discuss trade and investment matters.

Concern over Trump’s remarks during his election campaign last year urging Japan along with South Korea to pay more for the cost of security alliances with the U.S. — which put his commitment to the alliances in doubt — may have already been alleviated when U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, visiting Tokyo a week earlier, called Japan’s host-nation support of the U.S. troops deployed in the country “a model of cost-sharing.” The two leaders affirmed that the Japan-U.S. alliance is “the cornerstone of peace and security” in the Asia-Pacific region. Just as Mattis did, Trump assured Abe that the bilateral security alliance covers the Senkaku Islands — an assurance that Abe’s administration had earlier sought from Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama to make sure the U.S. will stand behind Japan in the bitter territorial row with China over the islets in the East China Sea.

During the talks in Washington and in Palm Beach, Trump reportedly did not touch on the currency exchange issue and automobile trade. Instead, the two leaders agreed to establish the framework of bilateral dialogue, to be led by Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and Vice U.S. President Mike Pence, on three areas — macro economic policies on fiscal and monetary issues, economic cooperation in such fields as infrastructure investment and energy, and the bilateral trade framework. Abe also said the two governments will keep up close discussions between their finance chiefs over currency exchange policies.

During the talks, Abe is believed to have sought Trump’s understanding by emphasizing Japan’s contribution to job-creation in the U.S. through investments by Japanese firms. In 2015, Japanese automakers produced 3.8 million vehicles in the U.S., which, combined with parts suppliers and dealerships, is said to have created 1.5 million jobs there. But it’s not clear whether Abe succeeded in correcting the U.S. president’s distorted views on trade issues. Their joint statement said the two leaders “emphasized that they remain fully committed to strengthening the economic relationships between their two countries and across the region, based on rules for free and fair trade.”
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