SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA —
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to continue to seek closer U.S. ties on security and trade, and to nurture a personal relationship with President Donald Trump when the two leaders meet for the second time in Washington on Friday.
“(Trump is) a business man that places a lot of emphasis on personal relationships, which is why during his first visit Mr. Abe gave Trump this extraordinarily expensive golf club. That’s why they’re going to play golf together on this visit,” said James Brown, an associate professor of international affairs at Temple University’s Japan campus.
Abe wants to secure a bilateral trade deal with the U.S. to replace the multilateral Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement that Trump has rejected.
Trump named Japan along with China and Mexico as countries that unfairly benefited from trade polices that caused a U.S. trade deficit, and accused Tokyo of improperly devaluing its currency to boost exports.
Japan posted a trade surplus of 6.8 trillion yen with the United States last year, down 4.6 percent from 2015, but U.S.-bound car shipments rose for a second straight year, according to Japanese Finance Ministry data.
While Trump is an experienced businessman, Brown said, Tokyo is concerned that his view of trade is narrow and his understanding of the extent of economic inter-dependence is limited.
“He does seem to regard trade as zero sum. He seems to think that it’s either the case that the U.S. wins or it’s negotiating partner wins. He doesn’t seem to accept trade is actually a positive sum issue where both sides can actually gain,” Brown said.
Abe will reportedly bring his finance and foreign affairs ministers to offer the Trump administration an investment package that could create 700,000 American jobs through private-public investment in infrastructure such as high-speed trains.