By Bill Hagerty, special to The Yomiuri Shimbun
I had the honor of joining U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during last week’s bilateral summit in Washington, D.C. During our time together, it was evident that most aspects of our partnership are in complete harmony.
As President Trump said at his press engagement with Prime Minister Abe in the White House Rose Garden, “The steadfast alliance between Japan and the United States is an enduring force of peace and stability in the Pacific region and around the world.” The President reaffirmed our close cooperation on today’s U.S.-North Korea summit, and our efforts to achieve progress on major issues including North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, as well as resolution of the abductions issue. The United States is in complete agreement with Japan on these top security and diplomatic issues, and our coordination on them is excellent. The President and the Prime Minister have maintained a close and warm relationship that underscores the shared values and interests between our two countries. Indeed, no two world leaders have a closer relationship than President Trump and Prime Minister Abe, highlighting the enormous strength of our diplomatic relationship.
Now is the time to bring our economic partnership to a level that is on par with the strength of our security alliance and diplomatic relationship.
Looking broadly at the economic relationship, the President and Prime Minister discussed multi-billion dollar increases in LNG exports to Japan, as well as creating more opportunities for billions of dollars of Japanese direct investment in the United States, which is already a major success story for both sides. The environment for Japanese investment in the United States has never been better.
With a spirit of partnership, the President made clear he seeks a trading relationship with Japan that is based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity. With the political prospects of a re-entry into the TPP nonexistent, the President aims to move forward on a bilateral basis to achieve a fair and beneficial economic partnership. It will tie our economies closer together and help create a more stable and efficient business environment for companies on both sides of the Pacific. In a bilateral environment, we can pursue higher standards that are in the interests of both Japan and the United States. I certainly hope that we can move quickly on this agenda … and so does the President.
Hagerty is U.S. ambassador to Japan.