Thursday evening’s Yomiuri led with a draft package of economic cooperation programs that Prime Minister Abe is expected to present when he holds a summit with President Trump on Feb. 10, claiming that under the “U.S.-Japan growth and employment initiative,” Japan will be committed to assisting the U.S. in producing an infrastructure market worth $450 billion by offering $150 billion in financial contributions as well as engineering and technical support for three high-speed rail projects in Texas, California, and the East Coast. Abe will reportedly convey that some 700,000 jobs will be created through this Japanese contribution. The premier is also set to propose the joint development of commercial planes, AI, and robots; imports of U.S. shale gas; and joint marketing of nuclear generation technology for overseas customers, as well as greater collaboration in the field of cybersecurity, with the goal of reminding the new U.S. leader of the huge economic benefits to be gained through greater economic cooperation.
In a follow-up report, today’s Yomiuri front-paged Japan’s idea of launching a ministerial-level dialogue forum on a range of economic issues, such as macroeconomic policy coordination, sector-by-sector cooperation, and trade and investment rules. The framework would be co-chaired by Vice President Pence and Deputy Prime Minister Aso, and attended by Secretary of State Tillerson, Foreign Minister Kishida, and other relevant cabinet ministers. With these proposals, the Abe administration is hoping to enhance relations with the Trump administration.
In a separate piece, the daily said the GOJ is desperate to maintain the U.S. commitment to Asia, which appears to be waning, as evidenced by President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the TPP, so as to counter China’s military and economic rise. Claiming that the planned package does not address auto trade issues, which are of great interest for the U.S. leader, the daily said the prime minister will hold talks with Toyota President Toyoda today to discuss what Japan can do to respond to President Trump’s repeated criticism of the auto trade imbalance.
Other papers ran similar stories this morning, with Asahi taking issue with the administration’s plan to tap Japanese pension funds for U.S. infrastructure projects, quoting a source close to the prime minister as saying: “Japan could be regarded as a vassal [of the U.S.]” Sankei said the package is being prepared to defend the Japanese auto industry from President Trump’s criticism, adding that some GOJ officials are worried that the U.S. leader may not ease his hard line toward Tokyo on the trade front even after being informed of the contribution package.