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Editorial: Japan, U.S. show a commitment to stand united on the resolution of “abduction” issue

On May 27, U.S. President Donald Trump, who is in Japan as a state guest, met with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress and held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well.


The meetings produced results, as they showcased the bond between Japan and the U.S.


When President Trump met with the Emperor and the Empress, he said that “it is an honor to be invited to Japan as the first state guest after the Imperial succession” and congratulated the Emperor on his enthronement. In the joint press conference with Prime Minister Abe, he emphasized that the “alliance between the United States and Japan is a cornerstone of stability and prosperity in the region and around the world.”


The best example of the two countries’ close partnership is the commitment they have made to resolve the abduction issue together. To bring all Japanese nationals abducted by the DPRK back home is the most important matter that Japan needs to address.


President Trump met with the families of the abductees for the second time following his first meeting with them on his previous trip to Japan in November 2017, and told them, “We will be working together to bring your relatives, your daughters, your sons, your mothers home.” At the joint press conference, he said he was “heart broken” when he met with them and demonstrated he is with them.  


At the press conference, he stressed that the “United States will continue to support Japan’s efforts to bring the abductees home.” Prime Minister Abe noted that Japan will “act resolutely” to achieve an early resolution.


Japan and the U.S. impose sanctions on the North as they agree that the DPRK will not have a bright future unless the regime achieves denuclearization. The sanctions must not be eased until it gives up its nuclear and missile programs.


The same holds true for the abduction issue. Japan should be responsible for its resolution, but Japan should work closely with the U.S. in pressing North Korea to return all Japanese abductees.


It is understandable that the Japanese and U.S. leaders agreed to promote the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision with an eye on China’s maritime aggression in defiance of international law.


On Japan-U.S. trade negotiations, President Trump noted that “there could be a major announcement in August.” The Japanese side, however, made no reference to this. The U.S. side probably wants to move to get a deal soon after the Upper House elections.


Of concern is that President Trump mentioned at the press conference that the U.S. is “not bound by the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact).” Japan’s basic stance is not to make concessions on the import of farm produce, which the U.S. is adamant about, beyond what was agreed at in the TPP talks.


In Japan-bound shipments, the U.S. is at a disadvantage compared with its TPP rivals, but this is the result of its withdrawal from the trade accord. It would not make sense and would hurt Japan’s international reputation if the U.S. got a better deal than TPP nations in exporting products to Japan. This point must be made clear to ensure the soundness of Japan-U.S. ties.  

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