WASHINGTON — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at the White House on Friday prepared to address President Trump’s past questions about Japan’s trade policies and contributions to national defense.
Abe is expected to discuss plans for Japanese investment in U.S. infrastructure projects — a favorite topic of the U.S. president — and his nation’s commitment to increased defense spending, according to U.S. and Japanese officials.
The main goal of the Trump-Abe meeting is “building personal trust between the two leaders,” said a Japanese statement on the summit, and to bolster the historic U.S.-Japan alliance that is “the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Trump, who during his presidential campaign criticized Japan over trade and mutual defense, has set aside two days for chats with Abe.
After an Oval Office meeting, a working lunch and a news conference at the White House, Abe and Trump will travel on Air Force One to the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. The two leaders are scheduled to play a round of golf on Saturday.
Abe, who also met with Trump in New York City shortly after the November election, told reporters before leaving Tokyo, “I want to hold a summit that can send a message saying the Japan-U.S. alliance will strengthen further with President Trump.”
The meeting takes place less than a month after Trump formally announced he would not pursue ratification of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade deal in which Japan would have been a key player. Instead, Abe is expected to begin talks about revising bilateral trade agreements between the United States and Japan, and to commit to Japanese investments in the U.S. economy.
“We will develop the two countries’ economies even more based on free and fair rules,” Abe told reporters.
In his presidential campaign, Trump also complained about what he-called “one-sided” deals in which the United States supplies troops and general defense assistance to allies, but bear a disproportionate share of the costs.
Candidate Trump often singled out Japan. Told once that the Japanese pay at least half the costs, Trump said: “Why don’t they pay 100%?”
That said, Trump is expected to echo Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who during a visit to Japan last week reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to mutual defense.
In Japan, Abe has proposed increased defense spending in the face of critics who cite the demilitarization of the county after its defeat in World War II.
The Abe-Trump meeting takes place the morning after the White House announced that Trump had spoken with the leader of another Asia power: China.
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