All dailies reported that Prime Minister Abe will hold talks with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Florida on April 17-18. Sankei took up a statement released on Monday by White House Press Secretary Sanders, who noted that the President’s “planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un” and “the international campaign to maintain maximum pressure” on the hermit state ahead of that meeting will be the top items on the agenda for the U.S.-Japan summit.
Yomiuri claimed that some Japanese officials are wary of a U.S. proposal for the two leaders to play golf at Mar-a-Lago given strong public criticism of the Abe administration over the document-tampering scandal involving the Finance Ministry. The daily said as Tokyo is reportedly alarmed by the rapid rapprochement between the U.S. and the DPRK and between North and South Korea, the premier is likely to press President Trump not to readily ease the pressure on the Kim regime. Yomiuri also expressed concern that Abe’s planned request for President Trump to exclude Japanese products from the steel tariffs may not be heeded, with some GOJ officials reportedly worrying that the President may propose a quid pro quo by linking the metal tariffs or other trade matters with the North Korea issue.
Mainichi wrote that although PM Abe has successfully capitalized on his strong relationship of trust with the President to reinforce the trans-Pacific alliance, this approach might not work this time, especially on the economic front since trade will be a major campaign issue in the November midterm elections.
Nikkei claimed that according to a source involved in bilateral relations, the U.S. has informally told the Japan that the President will exempt Japanese metals from the tariffs if the premier makes a direct request. However, the GOJ is reportedly cautious about the premier making such an appeal out of fear that the U.S. leader may call for the launch of bilateral FTA talks in return. Nikkei speculated that in order to downplay a potential schism on the bilateral trade front, Abe may choose to highlight coordination with the President on rectifying China’s trade practices by proposing the filing of a joint suit in the WTO on Beijing’s breach of intellectual property rights.