All Saturday morning papers highlighted the repercussions of President-elect Trump’s tweet criticizing Toyota’s plan to build an assembly line in Mexico, noting that many Japanese companies are deeply concerned that the next U.S. leader will take an “excessively protectionist” approach. The fact that an increasing number of American companies have chosen to take a second look at their overseas business plans apparently in response to Trump’s messages has made Japanese business leaders worried. Asahi said that Trump’s tweets pose the “greatest business risk” for Japanese enterprises.
Nikkei projected that trade friction may emerge between the U.S. and Japan depending on the Trump administration’s policies, expressing concern that the incoming administration might unleash a wave of protectionist measures around the world that would cripple the global economy. GOJ officials are afraid that the next U.S. leader’s “unabashed America-first” approach will undermine free trade. While claiming that the “border tax” mentioned by Trump in his Toyota tweet would probably be judged improper by the WTO, Yomiuri speculated that he could ignore such a ruling since it would not be legally binding.
Yomiuri said that if William Hagerty is tapped as ambassador to Japan as rumored, he might urge the GOJ to make concessions on the trade and other fronts as Trump will probably expect him to be a “tough negotiator” in dealing with Tokyo. Sankei said the GOJ is concerned that the Trump administration will seek a bilateral free trade accord instead of the TPP.