President Donald Trump met recently with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, referred to as the Southern White House. It was the third meeting between the two leaders who have forged a strong friendship and are determined to nurture the robust alliance between the United States and Japan.
The summit took place as preparations commence for a possible meeting between President Trump and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un. North Korea was a key issue in the discussions between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe. The President praised Japan’s critical support in helping to bring about a potentially “historic moment”, if talks with the North Korean leader prove fruitful. He also promised to urge North Korea to promptly resolve the Japanese abduction issue.
During their discussions, both leaders reiterated their commitment to achieving a permanent and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea. They stressed that North Korea needs to abandon all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. They agreed that until North Korea denuclearizes, the global maximum pressure campaign on North Korea will continue.
Trade was another key issue. The United States has a persistent trade deficit with Japan, and President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agreed to intensify trade and investment discussions in order to expand free, fair and reciprocal trade and investment between their two countries. President Trump expressed his preference for a new bilateral deal with Japan, rather than a multilateral agreement, like the Trans Pacific Partnership from which the U.S. has withdrawn.
Both leaders also stressed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, underpinned by respect for the shared norms and values that enable every responsible nation in the region to prosper.
President Trump made clear that the United States’ commitment to Japan’s defense was unwavering; and the two leaders agreed that South China Sea claimants, including China, should halt their militarization of disputed features, and that all disputes should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with the United Nations convention on the Law of the Sea.
At a post-summit news conference, President Trump declared, “The friendship between Japan and the United States has never been closer…In the months ahead, we will rely on this great friendship as we face an array of old challenges and new opportunities, and we will face them together.”