Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday he wants to build a “relationship of trust” with US President Donald Trump, and stressed the economic and trade ties between the country are a “win-win.”
With US-Japanese ties strained by Trump’s rejection of a trans-Pacific trade deal, his questioning of long-standing defense commitments and rough treatment of close allies, Abe said his meeting with the new president is timely.
“I wish to firmly build a relationship of trust at the leadership level with my visit to the United States, and to show to our people and the world the unwavering alliance between Japan and the United States.”
Abe opened his two-day visit with a meeting with business leaders in which he highlighted the hundreds of thousands of American jobs created by the vast Japanese investments in the United States.
Most budget cars sold by Toyota and Honda are “produced in US factories by American workers,” he said, noting that US investments by Japanese companies total $411 billion, generating 840,000 jobs.
“Nobody in Japan complains that his or her job has been taken away by the Americans, because the Japanese has gained in business as well.”
It is “truly a win-win relationship.”
The comment appeared to be in reference to Trump’s frequent attacks on US companies sending jobs overseas.
Abe warned against reverting to the kind of antagonistic relations of the 1990s, when Washington and Tokyo were embroiled in trade disputes over auto imports.
“Our two nations were trapped in a zero-sum game mindset, of what one nation gains the other will suffer losses,” he said.
Through consultations the countries “eventually found a path to positive-sum game,” he said.
Economists often accuse Trump — who has threatened to impose import tariffs on goods from Mexico and China — of looking at trade relations in outdated terms, where any jobs lost by Americans or imports come at the expense of the US economy.
Abe acknowledged that there are problems to be resolved in global trade, which is now growing more slowly than GDP, including a glut of steel that has depressed prices, and weak protection of intellectual property that can stifle innovation.
In a thinly-veiled jab at China, Abe said, “Overproduction in a certain country has not ceased. As a consequence, increase in exports results in a depressed price worldwide.”