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Editorial: Celebration of Emperor’s enthronement a chance to deepen bonds of Japan-U.S. alliance

U.S. President Donald Trump will visit Japan for four days starting on May 25 as the first state guest of the new Reiwa Era.


The purpose of his visit is to congratulate the Emperor on his accession to the throne. A visit by the U.S. president as the first foreign leader to meet the Emperor after his enthronement will be an opportunity to show domestic and international audiences the deep bonds between Japan and the U.S. We welcome the President’s visit to Japan.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also spend a lot of time holding talks and interacting with the President during the visit.


The two leaders are going to hold summit talks three months in a row, more frequently than ever before. The prime minister visited the U.S. in April, and President Trump is scheduled to come to Japan again in June to attend the Group of 20 summit to be held in Osaka. It goes without saying that the substance of the Japan-U.S. summit talks is important, but the mere fact that the two leaders will be meeting for three consecutive months also signifies the close alliance between the two countries.


President Trump will meet with families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea to demonstrate that he attaches importance to settling the abduction issue. He and the prime minister will also visit and inspect the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Izumo-class destroyer Kaga, which is slated to be converted into an aircraft carrier, to highlight the close defense cooperation between Tokyo and Washington. The two leaders are also scheduled to play golf and watch sumo together.


North Korea has begun taking provocative actions by firing short-range ballistic missiles. It has shown no intention of resolving the abduction issue. The boycott of major Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies and trade friction are adding fuel to “the new cold war between the U.S. and China.”


Displaying unity in tough times will enhance the deterrence capability of the alliance between the U.S. and Japan and the strength of the two nations in negotiating with foreign countries. This is very significant because it is directly connected to Japan’s security.


However, one aspect of President Trump’s attitude toward Japan in terms of trade policy is difficult to comprehend. Namely, his decision to classify auto imports from Japan and the EU as a threat to national security.


The President’s argument that imported cars have eroded the management vitality of American automakers and reduced R&D investment is too extreme. This is a blatant act of trying to restrict imports by high-handedly linking auto trade with security in order to reduce the trade deficit. It is hardly the way a nation should behave toward an ally.


Japanese companies are generating large numbers of jobs in the U.S. by manufacturing cars there. If prices go up in the U.S. as a result of bashing Japanese cars, consumers will suffer. It is understandable that both the Japanese and American business communities have voiced opposition to the President’s decision.


Prime Minister Abe and President Trump are unlikely to issue a joint statement when they meet in Tokyo this time because they have not narrowed their differences in the trade talks yet. But we hope the prime minister will point out the problems with the U.S. trade policy toward Japan and urge the President to change it.


The two leaders also need to start carefully coordinating their strategy toward China, including how to deal with Huawei, in addition to measures against North Korea.  

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