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Pence to visit Japan in November with trade deal on agenda

TOKYO — The White House and Japan are arranging for U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to visit Tokyo in mid-November, where he would meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss issues including trade and North Korea, according to sources.

Another priority is to keep China in check.


Besides meeting with Abe, Pence would hold economic talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso. These conversations are expected to cover tariffs and a bilateral trade agreement on goods, which the countries recently agreed to discuss.


The vice president is to serve as a stand-in for President Donald Trump, not only in Japan but elsewhere in Asia. Trump plans to skip the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Singapore and the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Papua New Guinea, and Pence is to attend these meetings in his stead.


Pence last visited Japan in February. The denuclearization of North Korea remains on the agenda, along with ways to handle China’s rising economic and military presence, including its advances in the South and East China seas.


Pence, who advocates a hard line on China, backs Trump’s economic policy including punitive tariffs. With crucial U.S. midterm elections coming up on Nov. 6, his Japan visit will provide an opportunity for both sides to reassess the political landscape.


The vice president’s talks with Aso would be held as part of the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue — a framework Abe and Trump agreed to create when they met in February 2017. The plan called for the No. 2 officials from each government to meet and discuss three themes: trade and investment rules; economic and structural policies; and cooperation in specific sectors like infrastructure.


The last session was held in Washington in October 2017. The upcoming one in Tokyo would be the third.


Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are also maintaining a dialogue.

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