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Ambassador Hagerty: U.S.-Japan cooperation can correct China’s behavior

By Hiroo Watanabe


U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty gave an exclusive interview to Sankei Shimbun on Oct. 2 in which he commented on the joint statement on cooperation by Japan, the U.S., and Europe in dealing with China’s unfair trade practices and such issues as violation of intellectual property rights, forcible demand for technology transfer, and subsidies to state-owned enterprises. The Ambassador said that this was “very encouraging” and “together with pressure through tariffs, this will allow us to work earnestly to correct (China’s behavior).” With regard to China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” covering a vast economic sphere, under which recipients of investments are suffering enormous debts, the Ambassador revealed that Japan and the U.S. will cooperate under their strategies for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” and are moving out on a private sector-led program for infrastructure development.


Hagerty pointed out that the “most important message” from the recent summit meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New York was that “they agreed on starting bilateral talks” on trade issues.


Regarding the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement on Goods (TAG), which the two countries have supposedly started negotiating, he noted that “this is not a term used by the U.S. side.” He emphasized that the goal is a comprehensive trade agreement that is not limited to goods but also includes services and other key areas.


With regard to the U.S.’s participation in the TPP, which Japan is seeking, he remarked: “The domestic political environment in the U.S. does not support such multilateral agreements.” He said: “Our only option is a bilateral agreement. I think Prime Minister Abe has finally realized that this is very important for the Japan-U.S. relationship.”


Meanwhile, Hagerty emphasized that on the North Korea situation, the Japanese and U.S. leaders “reconfirmed that the goal of final, fully verified denuclearization remains unchanged.” However, with regard to a second meeting with Workers’ Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un, which Trump has hinted at, the Ambassador indicated that this will take place “only if the President is confident that progress can be made.”


Hagerty said: “We will be able to help create the environment for Prime Minister Abe to negotiate (with Chairman Kim)” to achieve a breakthrough in bringing all the Japanese abduction victims home. He indicated that [the U.S.] will continue efforts to prod [North Korea] for a solution to the abduction issue, as Trump did in Singapore at his meeting with Kim.

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