TOKYO — U.S. President Donald Trump urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his recent stay in Japan to immediately produce tangible results to improve the trade imbalance between the two countries, sources said Thursday.
Trump appears to be trying to achieve his election campaign promise of reducing the United States’ ballooning trade deficit with countries such as Japan and China, with an eye on the 2018 midterm elections, Japanese government officials said.
“We seek equal and reliable access for American exports to Japan’s markets in order to eliminate our chronic trade imbalances and deficits with Japan, (and) we’re working on that,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Abe on Monday in Tokyo.
Trump also expressed hope that Japan will buy “massive amounts” of U.S.-made defense equipment.
According to the sources, Trump touched on the trade issue when he played golf with Abe on Sunday and when they had a working dinner together on Monday.
At their summit, Abe told Trump that the proportion of the U.S.’ trade deficit with Japan has significantly shrunk compared to that in the past while explaining Japanese companies have helped create jobs in the United States, the sources said.
Abe was also quoted by the sources as telling Trump that Tokyo is willing to discuss cooperation in the fields of trade and investment during the bilateral economic dialogue between Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, the next round of which is planned for 2018 in the Japanese capital.
During the summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday, Trump called for “fair” trade with China in an effort to address the enormous trade imbalance between the world’s two biggest economies.