Kyodo News filed a report on Saturday saying that Japan and the United States are unlikely to issue a joint statement when their leaders meet in Tokyo later this month, apparently to avoid exposing their differing views on bilateral trade and North Korea issues, Japanese government sources said Saturday. According to the sources, President Trump and PM Abe are facing difficulty in striking a bilateral trade agreement that Washington views as a means to reduce the hefty U.S. trade deficit with Japan. The report said that the longtime security allies have also found themselves not on the same page in dealing with Pyongyang following its recent launch of short-range ballistic missiles, with Japan protesting the move as a violation of UN resolutions and President Trump reportedly saying he does not regard it as a “breach of trust” by North Korea.
Kyodo said that when President Obama visited Japan in 2014 as a state guest, the two governments crafted a joint statement that touched on, among other issues, the U.S. defense commitment extending to the Senkaku Islands. Instead of issuing such a document this time, the Japanese government reportedly plans to showcase the “strong relationship of trust” between President Trump and PM Abe through a joint press conference after their talks and by having the two watch sumo bouts at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, the sources said. Abe apparently hopes to win support from President Trump in efforts to settle the issue of past abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korea and tell him that he is seeking to seal a trade deal that will benefit both sides, they said.
Kyodo quoted a Japanese Foreign Ministry source as saying that the government plans to explain to the public that there is no need to prepare a new statement as the two countries issued one following their summit in February 2017 in Washington.