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Editorial: Make economic cooperation between Japan, U.S. serve both nation’s needs

Reinforcing cooperation between Japan and the United States — not antagonistic relations between them — is exactly what is needed for the prosperity of our respective economies. The leaders of the two nations should share an understanding of the importance of facilitating a cooperative relationship for our mutual benefit.


In talks with U.S. President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to propose measures aimed at promoting new economic cooperation between Japan and the United States.


The specifics of the proposal are being considered. Its main pillar would be to create a ¥51 trillion market and produce jobs for about 700,000 people through such measures as infrastructure investment in the United States.


The proposal reportedly entails the provision of about ¥17 trillion by Japanese megabanks and government-affiliated banks over a 10-year period, with a view to financing planned high-speed railway services in the United States and revamping 3,000 train cars there.


It also includes Japanese participation in high-efficiency gas-fired power production and small-scale nuclear power generation in that country.


The series of projects is intended to meet the expectations of Trump, who continues pursuing the promotion of employment in the United States.


The construction of a high-speed railway system in the United States will lead to infrastructure exports from Japan, an undertaking in which this nation’s business community has long sought to participate. The proposal also includes projects to combine Japanese and U.S. technological strengths, such as the development of robots and artificial intelligence.


Trusting relationship vital


The proposal is not just about encouraging the creation of jobs in the United States, it is consistent with Abe’s growth strategy, whose aims include what the government has touted as a fourth industrial revolution. There is also hope that the proposal will expand business opportunities for Japanese corporations.


Needless to say, economic cooperation, which will benefit both Japan and the United States, is based on a relationship of trust between the two nations.


Trump has singled out Japan-U.S. automobile trade as “not fair,” and has also lambasted Japan’s foreign exchange policy, saying our country continued to guide the yen’s value lower.


The prime minister needs to properly refute Trump’s mistaken views about the facts while also making sure the president corrects his unreasonable “Japan bashing” stance.


If the prime minister does not say what he must to Trump, economic cooperation that accomodates the demands of the United States could convey the erroneous message that if the United States deals strongly with Japan, our nation will accede.


The proposal also spells out Japan-U.S. cooperation in the Asian region. It would seek progress in creating and refurbishing liquefied natural gas stations, thereby supporting efforts to increase the acceptance of shale gas in Asia, noting that there is an anticipated increase in the production of the gas in the United States.


Proposed measures also include strengthening bilateral cooperation in acting on an oversupply of steel and protecting intellectual property. These steps are apparently aimed at restraining China, which has been making its presence felt more strongly as it has become unlikely the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact will go into effect.


For Japan, this can be described as a strategy designed to “go for substance instead of form,” attempting to substantively realize the TPP agreement, starting with areas where the United States finds it easy to accede.


On top of that, the prime minister must seek Trump’s understanding regarding the importance of the free trade system.

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