Trump Visits Japan
USA and trade are two topics that haven’t been coexisting hand in hand as of late. US President Trump’s visit of Japan intends to improve conditions on all fronts for his country. Trump will be predominantly accompanied by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two powerhouse’s ‘bromance’ has always one to envy, building a strong personal relationship since the beginning of Trump’s election in November 2016. The two leader’s attachment is showing to have positive implications on both economies with the transparency in their conversation. As their personal relationship is fundamentally sound, negotiations are expected to be smooth and economically supportive.
Sprouting relationship between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe
Even before President Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, Abe’s almost overly-keen interest was exemplified when he flew to New York for a sit-down at Trump Tower. Following Trump’s admission, the two have conversed almost 20 times over the phone and met in person in both respective countries, according to White House records. The two have also partaken in playing golf on three separate occasions; Abe has gifted Trump a $3,800 golf club, visited the prestigious Mar-a-Lago twice and made an appearance at Melania Trump’s birthday dinner.
Following suit of their past experiences, this visit was nothing short of eventful. The two leaders have a profound respect for each other with Trump boasting that Abe stated “You are the guest of honour” reciprocating Trump’s previous gratitude, according to Japan Times “Abe was offered the use of Trump’s personal restroom in the White house.” Their latest reunion involved continuing their affinity for golf participating in a friendly round, watching and presenting the trophy alongside Prime Minister Abe at a Sumo tournament, followed by enjoying a private dinner together. The visit however, isn’t solely for relationship building with negotiations ensuing at the beginning of the week regarding political policy.
Both powerhouses have an agenda coming into these discussions, Trump aiming to equate the trade imbalance while Abe focuses on Japan’s mounting hostile pressures from nearby North Korea. On a side note, Trump’s visit to Japan will including him being the first foreign leader to meet with the country’s new Emperor, Naruhito. Sparking the new Reiwa era, the new crowned Emperor and Trump’s convocation acts as a catalyst to further instilling the foundations of the already strong relationship.
Following all the relationship building activities, difficult negotiations are arranged to take place regarding both parties’ economic conditions. Japan is getting growingly nervous of escalating tensions with surrounding countries. Relations with the important long-time political and economic power South Korea are deteriorating with a succession of disputes and scandalous remarks. Conversely, in light of economic adverse conditions between US and China, Trump is seeking some trade relief from Japan to offset their circumstances. The Trump administration’s main focus point is “negotiating a bilateral trade agreement.” Trump explained.
Abe has been scrutinised for investing so much time in Trump, who is unpopular in the eyes of Japan’s general population. “The Japanese public does not like our leader to entertain another country’s leader,” said Koji Murata, a professor of political science at Doshisha University in Kyoto. However, North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles able to reach Japan and their defence budget 10 times larger than Japan’s linger in Abe’s mind.
Knowing that relations with South Korea are at their lowest point in 50 years, Abe is actively seeking to be able to count on the support of the US if tensions were to boil over. Former Obama White House National Security Council aide explains Japan’s weakness “They need the relationship for their own protection,” “They’re worried about being caught out in the cold.” proclaimed by the serving senior Asian adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden.
USA’s economic driver
Trump’s intentions to ‘to make America great again’ are in motion with the administration aiming improve the $67.7 billion trade deficit reported in 2018. Trump acknowledges that “Japan has had a substantial edge for many, many years, but that’s okay,” Trump said. “Maybe that’s why you like me so much.”
Trade negotiations including lifting the impositions of automotive and auto parts imports, as well as reducing tariffs on cultivation with the President saying “Agriculture and beef heavily in play.” and proclaiming “Great progress being made in our Trade Negotiations with Japan”. Trump and his administration revealed that these will be negotiated further in the following months “Much will wait until after their July elections where I anticipate big numbers!”
The US government plans to offset the near boiling point tensions between themselves and China by reducing economic stress with Japan. Being in a cut throat trade war with one Asian power house is much optimal than being involved with two. Trump now acknowledges this despite previously questioning when he was a candidate, the long standing alliances “We’re basically protecting Japan.” With so much at stake, both countries seek to gain from negotiations.
By Nicholas Psaltis
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