This past week’s Mar-a-Lago summit between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe will be remembered as one of the most consequential ever between our two countries. The summit showed our absolute alignment on issues regarding North Korea, and we also agreed to take a significant step forward to strengthen our bilateral trade relationship. This was the third summit for the two leaders, and conversations were naturally candid, but also warm and friendly. The leaders now know each other so well that it was easy to get down to business.
On North Korea, we stand together in seeking the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and the President and Prime Minister also emphasized the importance of bringing the Japanese abductees home. The President met with families of the abductees on his last visit to Japan, and just prior to the summit I spoke with family members of abductees at my residence in Tokyo. For both the President and me, these were very moving meetings. The President, of course, is also committed to bringing home our American detainees.
Bilateral trade was a central topic at the summit. We took a step forward in this area, as the President and the Prime Minister committed to enhance our bilateral discussions to reflect the priority we both attach to fair and reciprocal trade. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japan’s Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will take the lead and meet soon to accelerate discussions on this agenda.
As has been widely reported, the President clearly explained to the Prime Minister that he prefers a bilateral trade agreement. The United States would consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) if, and only if, it were modified such that it were “a deal we could not refuse,” the President noted. We believe it is now time to work together expeditiously on a trade relationship between our two countries that further enhances our partnership. With two such able negotiators as USTR Lighthizer and Minister Motegi, I know we can find a mutually beneficial result.
At the close of the summit the President and First Lady hosted a wonderful dinner to honor the Prime Minister and our Japanese guests, and I was struck by the genuine warmth and friendship between our two countries. Our close relationship is built on shared values, common interests, and close ties that have been forged by our leaders and many others over many decades. This summit cemented this relationship as the enduring cornerstone of regional security and prosperity.
(This is the original version of the article that appeared in translation in the Nikkei.)