Trump welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the White House

WASHINGTON — President Trump reaffirmed the United States' commitment to the defense of Japan on Friday but said both countries need to contribute more to military cooperation.

"We will work together to promote our shared interests, of which we have many," Trump said after a White House meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

That includes regional threats from North Korea and Chinese expansion into the South China Sea, Trump and Abe said.

The president, who has criticized Japanese trade policies, also said he would pursue new deals with the U.S. ally that are "free, fair and reciprocal."

For his part, Abe said he is already increasing defense spending by his country, and he pledged Japanese contributions to U.S. infrastructure programs.

"There will be even more jobs born in the United States," Abe said.

During the joint news conference, Trump also:

The main goal of the Trump-Abe meeting is "building personal trust between the two leaders," said a Japanese statement before the summit, and to bolster the historic U.S.-Japan alliance that is "the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region."

Unlike previous presidents, Trump greeted his international guest at the door of the West Wing, a job that used to be done by a protocol officer. Trump extended the same courtesy to his first foreign visitor, British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Trump has set aside two days for chats with Abe. After the Oval Office meeting, working lunch and news conference at the White House, Abe and Trump will travel on Air Force One to the president's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. The two leaders are scheduled to play a round of golf on Saturday.

Abe, who also met with Trump in New York City shortly after the November election, told reporters before leaving Tokyo, "I want to hold a summit that can send a message saying the Japan-U.S. alliance will strengthen further with President Trump."

The meeting takes place less than a month after Trump formally announced he would not pursue ratification of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade deal in which Japan would have been a key player. Instead, Abe is expected to begin talks about revising bilateral trade agreements between the United States and Japan, and to commit to Japanese investments in the U.S. economy.

"We will develop the two countries' economies even more based on free and fair rules," Abe told reporters.

In his presidential campaign, Trump also complained about what he-called "one-sided" deals in which the United States supplies troops and general defense assistance to allies, but bear a disproportionate share of the costs.

Candidate Trump often singled out Japan. Told once that the Japanese pay at least half the costs, Trump said: “Why don’t they pay 100%?"

That said, Trump was expected to echo Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who during a visit to Japan last week reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to mutual defense.

In Japan, Abe has proposed increased defense spending in the face of critics who cite the demilitarization of the country after its defeat in World War II.

The Abe-Trump meeting takes place the morning after the White House announced that Trump had spoken with the leader of another Asia power: China.

USA TODAY


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