Japan on Friday stressed that specific bilateral trade issues should be addressed in a planned high-level economic dialogue after Washington urged Tokyo to further open its automobile and agriculture markets in a statement presented to the World Trade Organization.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed last month that the two countries will launch the dialogue in Tokyo in mid-April.
“The two leaders have agreed to press ahead with the economic dialogue. How to strengthen the economic partnership and cooperation will be discussed under that framework,” Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko told a press conference when he was asked about the U.S. statement to the WTO.
Trump’s administration accused Japan of maintaining nontariff barriers in the auto sector and imposing high import tariffs for foreign farm products while also demanding that the Japanese government undertake regulatory reforms in the statement dated Wednesday.
Regarding the U.S. demand, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a separate press conference, “Problems should be solved through the Japan-U.S. dialogue” to be led by Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.
The top Japanese government spokesman added such a U.S. demand has been made “every year.”
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida also said senior government officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will visit the United States this week to prepare for the economic dialogue.
Tokyo is hoping to focus on cooperation in railway development and U.S. exports of shale gas, a source close to the matter said earlier.
The dialogue is expected to become the main stage for bilateral economic and trade talks after Trump pulled the United States out of the 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal earlier this year.