U.S. president-elect Donald Trump is set to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday in New York. Abe is expected to stress the continued importance of the Japan-U.S. relationship, security and international trade within the wider Pacific region.
Before leaving for the trip, Abe said that the relationship between the two states “is the cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy and security. Only when there is trust does an alliance come alive,” adding that he intends to “build trust” with Trump.
During his presidential campaigning, Trump made a number of claims about Japan and foreign relations within the Asia region outside the traditional approach. Now that he has won the presidency, Japan along with other countries remain guessing over Trump’s developing foreign policy.
Trump had previously raised alarm bells with Japan after threatening to withdraw U.S. troops from Japan and other Asian nations unless U.S. allies met demands to contribute more funding to the military alliance.
Japan has grown increasingly wary of North Korea as well as ongoing disputes within the region over the South China Sea, an important economic and strategic passage, which has been a thorny issues between the U.S. and China.
The Republican has also made contradicting statements about Japan and South Korea obtaining nuclear arms to protect themselves from North Korea without U.S. military support and said that if the U.S. is attacked Japan would simply “sit some and watch Sony television.”
Following his New York meeting, Abe will head to a leaders meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, in Lima, Peru. Abe, along with outgoing President Barack Obama, were key supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, which is now all but dead and buried as Trump ran his presidential campaign clearly opposing the much-maligned trade deal.
A key talking point of APEC will be China, which is expected to push its own free trade agreement within the region, something that has concerned both Tokyo and Washington as the Japanese prime minister appears to be hanging onto hope for the TPP.
“We don’t have to take each word that Mr. Trump said publically literally,” said Katsuyuki Kawai, an advisor to the Japanese PM. Trump’s team however, has remained tight-lipped about the meeting. It is expected to be a relatively informal affair as Trump won't be inaugurated into the White House for another two months.