Kyodo News
Back to Main
Abe to tell Trump Japan respects "America First" principle

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to tell U.S. President Donald
Trump that Japan "understands and respects" his "America First"
principle if they hold summit talks in Washington in February,
Japanese government sources said Tuesday.

Abe is apparently aiming to build confidence with Trump and to
"strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance befitting the new era" by
supporting the political position of the
businessman-turned-Republican president, the sources said.

At a possible face-to-face meeting next month, Abe is also
expected to emphasize the importance of free trade, as Trump has
signed an executive order ending U.S. participation in the
Trans-Pacific Partnership, a mega trade pact that has been sought by
Abe and former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Tokyo has been seeking for Trump and Abe to share the view that
the Japan-U.S. alliance "contributes to the stability in the
Asia-Pacific region and interests of the United States," according to
the sources.

"Mr. Trump is trying to build a strong United States (not only
in the economic field but) in the security field. By working
together, Japan could be able to receive great benefits," one of the
sources said.

Amid China's military buildup and assertive territorial claims
in the nearby seas, Japan is expected to urge Trump to affirm, as
Obama did unequivocally, that the Senkaku Islands, a group of East
China Sea islets administered by Japan but claimed by China and
Taiwan, fall under Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty.

The affirmation would mean the United States will defend Japan
in the event of emergencies over the islands.
As for the TPP, Abe is likely to tell Trump that Japan hopes
Washington will return to the free trade deal, the sources said.

The TPP, signed by 12 Pacific Rim nations in February last year,
cannot come into force in its current form without ratification by
the United States, which on its own accounts for over 60 percent of
the signatories' total gross domestic product.

Japan has yet to decide whether it will accept a potential
request from Trump to start negotiations on a bilateral free trade
agreement with the United States, the sources said.

Abe is eager to give Trump the impression he is a beneficial
partner, the sources added. Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, doubling
as finance minister, and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida may also
visit the United States around the same time of Abe's proposed
meeting with Trump. (Jan. 24)