(ANTIMEDIA) Tokyo — After accepting an invitation over the weekend to meet with President Donald Trump in February, on Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to recent allegations from the newly-installed leader that Japan has an unfair advantage in its trade balance with the U.S.
Speaking before parliament on the subject of the auto industry — an area of primary focus for Donald Trump — Prime Minister Abe suggested America’s minuscule share of the Japanese auto market is more about consumer demand and a lack of U.S. investment than anything else.
“It’s not only President Trump, but U.S. officials at all levels often bring this up,” Abe said. “I tell them, if you go outside you will realize there are quite a lot of European cars, but no American cars and there are reasons for that. There are no dealers, they don’t exhibit at the Tokyo Motor Show and they don’t advertise on the television or in the newspapers.”
Continuing, Abe pointed out that other nations who wish to deal in the Japanese auto market have taken the proper steps.
“Makers from some other countries make an effort by switching the steering wheel to the other side,” he said. And in a show of diplomatic good faith, he added, “If there is a misunderstanding about this, I will of course explain it to the U.S. side.”
On Saturday, it was reported that Prime Minister Abe will meet with President Trump in Washington, D.C. on February 10. Following a phone call between the two leaders, the White House released a statement saying the U.S. and Japan are “committed to deepen[ing] the bilateral trade and investment relationship.”
As Anti-Media reported last week, the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a major blow for Japan. Prime Minister Abe was hoping that the U.S., through its engagement in the TPP, would strengthen its ties to countries in the Pacific Rim.
Trump favors bilateral face-to-face trade deals in which two nations work directly. This approach, the president has indicated, would aid in eliminating the “unfair” advantage Japan has over the U.S. on the issue of trade. It also falls perfectly in line with the leader’s “America First” policy and his campaign promise to grow the American workforce — a fact not lost on members of the Japanese government.
“Trump only cares about numbers,” an unidentified official told Japanese media over the weekend. “Everything has to be linked to jobs creation. Symbolically, autos is [sic] a very big player.”
Then, commenting on the February 10 meeting between the new American president and Prime Minister Abe — and highlighting the delicate nature of the tightrope Japan will now be forced to walk if it intends to deal with the Trump administration — the official added:
“I think that is the only way forward to make the bilateral summit a success.”
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