Saturday’s Sankei carried a prominent inside-page article on the agreed-upon launch of a new venue for consultations between the U.S. and Japan for a “free, fair, and reciprocal trade deal,” focusing on the two chairs – USTR Lighthizer and Economic Revitalization Minister Motegi. While noting that Motegi is known among the members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as a “tough negotiator,” the daily called Lighthizer a “trade hardliner,” who successfully forced Japan as deputy USTR to agree on “voluntary restrictions” of auto exports to the U.S. market in the 1980s. The article said Motegi will be tasked with fending off strong pressure from the U.S. official, who is reportedly anxious to start FTA talks with Japan, and persuading the Trump administration to return to the TPP.
Saturday’s Asahi claimed that the Trump administration is determined to press the GOJ to increase market access for U.S. beef and autos, saying that the U.S. is deeply concerned that its market share for beef in Japan will be undercut by Australian, Canadian, and other foreign products. As for the auto sector, the daily asserted that President Trump is extremely unhappy about the lopsided state of auto trade between the two nations.