Trump, Abe seek consensus on North Korea amid trade strains

Trump, Abe seek consensus on North Korea amid trade strains

Trump, Abe seek consensus on North Korea amid trade strains

Shinzo Abe is heading to Mar-a-Lago for a two-day "working summit" with Donald Trump, and officially the top issue is North Korea. US officials stressed that Trump has met with Abe more than any other world leader, and say they've been in "constant contact" since Trump accepted Kim's invitation.

Wang also said that the world's free trade system is being shaken by the rise of protectionism, apparently referring to the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump's decision to hold an improbable summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un this May or June was announced without consulting Abe.

Both sides insist that Trump and Abe remain close.

Tokyo and Beijing discussed shared concerns, including the imposition of high US tariffs on imported steel, a measure that would affect Chinese and Japanese producers.

While Japan and China do not necessarily see eye to eye on all trade matters - Mr Kono said he broached such issues as fair and free transfers of technology, intellectual property exchanges and Chinese steel overproduction - they are prepared to collaborate on a wide range of sectors.

Abe himself has been accused of having used his influence to help his long-time friend Kotaro Kake open a new university department in the western city of Imabari at a time when universities have struggled to attract students amid low birthrates in Japan.

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China in 2016 extracted about 150,000 tonnes of rare earths, experts say, but has in the past restricted the supply amid political tensions. In the evening, the president and his wife Melania Trump will have dinner with the Japanese prime minister and his wife, Akie. Trump pulled the United States out of TPP shortly after his inauguration in early 2017. South Korea offers a good example here, as only a few weeks ago the government in Seoul buckled under United States pressure and offered to let more USA cars into the country and export less steel to the US. "The U.S. wants Japan to complain about the tariff and then wants to talk about a bilateral treaty", said Hajime Izumi, professor of worldwide relations at Tokyo global University.

Abe had wanted a third term to tend to unfinished business: namely, revising the pacifist constitution for the first time since it was imposed on Japan by its American occupiers after World War II.

Since returning to the premiership in 2012, Abe has made security a key plank of his appeal.

He has also repeatedly denied that he or his wife intervened in a heavily discounted sale of state-owned land to another school operator, Moritomo Gakuen, with ties to his wife. There are also other foreign policy priorities for Washington.

As a result, trade and currency policies are likely to be a major subject of discussion during the Abe-Trump meeting, particularly as the USA agricultural lobby pushes for greater access to the Japanese market.

But U.S. and Japanese interests will be hard to reconcile if Trump proves too eager in his quest to find a historic breakthrough. Abe will be seeking reassurance from Trump that security threats to Japan won't be overlooked in the U.S.

As Sheila Smith of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote: "Both will want to spend time away from cameras, trying to resolve their differences and putting a strong statesman-like face on as they struggle through this increasingly fraught era".

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