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U.S. Vice President Pence's visit to Japan may be set for mid-April

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's planned visit to Japan will
likely be from April 17 or 18 for the purpose of starting a bilateral
economic dialogue, as agreed by the two countries' leaders last
month, a Japanese government source said Thursday.

During his stay until around April 20, Pence will hold talks
with Japan's Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as finance
minister, according to the source. The Japanese government is also
considering inviting the vice president to Kyoto, the country's
ancient capital.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed
during their summit in Washington in February to launch the dialogue
to discuss topics ranging from the economy to trade.

Pence has been scheduled to visit Japan for an event on the
occasion of a meeting between U.S. and Japanese business leaders in
Tokyo.

Trump's protectionist stance on trade has sparked concerns in
Japan, where the economy relies heavily on exports for growth. The
president has announced the U.S. withdrawal from a Trans-Pacific
Partnership free trade accord and threatened to impose a border tax.

As Trump is opting for bilateral rather than multilateral trade
deals, the United States may call for further concessions on
agricultural produce such as beef, pork, and rice than under the TPP
framework.

On the prospect of a bilateral free trade agreement, Abe told a
meeting of the upper house budget committee Thursday that Aso and
Pence will "discuss various options."

Construction of infrastructure, an area where Japanese companies
are globally competitive, is one of the expected agenda items for the
dialogue.

In his first address to Congress on Wednesday, Trump pledged to
boost the U.S. economy with $1 trillion worth of infrastructure
investment. (March 2)