US President Donald Trump said on Friday he will discuss trade with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at their talks on the sidelines of a Group of 20 (G20) summit in Osaka, western Japan, as Washington pushes to cut its big trade deficit.
“We’re going to be talking about many things and we’re also going to be talking about a lot of trade. I appreciate the fact that you’re sending many automobile companies into Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania and North Carolina,” Trump said at the start of the talks. He was referring to states that are critical to his effort to win re-election next year.
Trump said the two leaders would also discuss Japanese purchases of US military equipment.
Tokyo and Washington are engaged in difficult trade talks as Trump’s administration seeks to lower the US trade deficit.
Trump is considering imposing steep tariffs on imported cars and auto parts on national security grounds, but said in May he would delay a decision for up to six months as talks continued with Japan and the European Union. Autos account for a large part of Japan’s trade surplus with the United States.
Trump, asked whether he would go ahead with tariffs on Japanese auto exports to the United States, reiterated that he would discuss trade with Abe and said it would be positive.
Abe welcomed Trump’s visit and said the two leaders’ frequent meetings - most recently during a May state visit by Trump to Tokyo - were “proof of the strong US-Japan alliance”.
Trump renewed his criticism of the US-Japan security alliance this week as imbalanced, according to Reuters news agency.
“If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War Three,” Trump said in an interview with Fox television in Washington on Wednesday.
“We will go in and we will protect them and we will fight with our lives and with our treasure. We will fight at all costs, right? But if we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television, the attack,” he said.
The United States has committed to defending Japan, which renounced the right to wage war after its defeat in World War Two, under the decades-old US-Japan security treaty.
Japan in return provides military bases that Washington uses to project power deep into Asia, including the biggest concentration of US Marines outside the United States on Okinawa, and the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group at the Yokosuka naval base near Tokyo.