Saturday evening’s Nikkei and Tokyo Shimbun reported on remarks made to the press on Friday by an unnamed high-ranking USG official regarding the planned summit between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe at Mar-a-Lago. The official reportedly indicated that the two leaders will discuss the abduction issue, saying: “Whenever the President thinks about North Korea, the Japanese abductees and Americans who are being held captive illegally there are always on his mind.” The official went on to say: “The President has a great deal of respect for the prime minister’s views on the security situation in Northeast Asia.” He also indicated that the issue of tariffs on Japanese metal products will probably be taken up. The official also reportedly explained that the Trump administration would consider rejoining the TPP if it were modified to benefit the United States.
Monday’s Asahi and Mainichi published prominent scene-setting reports on the Mar-a-Lago summit, asserting that it is uncertain whether PM Abe will be able to play up the strong bilateral alliance by “synchronizing” the two nations’ views on North Korea since President Trump appears inclined to promote dialogue with the DPRK. The papers projected that Abe will probably be put in a difficult position on the economic front over issues such as the metal tariffs since the Trump administration is taking a hard line on Japan’s trade surplus with the U.S. Asahi conjectured that Abe might not ask the President to exempt Japan from the steel tariffs out of fear that the U.S. leader would demand in return measures to further open the Japanese auto and agricultural markets.