United States President Donald Trump, pressed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday to even out a trade imbalance with the United States and expressed confidence, despite Japanese wariness, that “good things” would come from North Korea.
Trump is on a four-day state visit to Japan meant to showcase the alliance between the two nations, but which has also been shadowed by trade tensions.
Trump explicitly linked trade and security, a connection that disturbs Tokyo, whose alliance with Washington stands at the core of its defense policies.
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“It’s all a balance sheet thing,” he said. “When I talk about a security threat, I talk about a balance sheet.
“In order to have $716 billion dollars a year in military expenditures, you have to have a lot of money coming in,” he said, adding that Japan had bought “tremendous amounts” of U.S. military gear.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that he expected big moves on trade would wait until after Japan’s upper house election in July.
“Trade-wise, I think we’ll be announcing some things, probably in August, that will be very good for both countries,” Trump said on Monday. “We’ll get the balance of trade, I think, straightened out rapidly.”
Abe, who has developed close personal ties with Trump since the U.S. leader came to office, stressed the closeness of ties.
“I am determined to demonstrate at home and abroad the very strong bond” he said of the alliance in Japan’s new Reiwa era, which began on May 1 when Emperor Naruhito inherited the throne.
Earlier, Trump was greeted by Naruhito and his Harvard-educated wife at the imperial palace in Tokyo in a formal welcome ceremony broadcast live on national television.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Akasaka Palace, Japanese state guest house in Tokyo May 27, 2019. Eugene Hoshiko/Pool via Reuters
He became the first foreign dignitary to be received by the monarch since the latter inherited the throne after his father, Akihito, stepped down in the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in two centuries.
Trump gave a slight bow and he and First Lady Melania Trump shook hands with the imperial pair before entering the palace, to be met by Abe and his wife, Akie, among others.
The president and emperor and their wives returned outside to walk a red carpet and stand under a hot sun while a military band played the national anthems of both countries.