Pence to Focus on Trade With Japan

Shinzo Abe (R) and Mike Pence meet in Tokyo, Japan, on April 18.Shinzo Abe (R) and Mike Pence meet in Tokyo, Japan, on April 18.

US Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese leaders began talks on Tuesday expected to focus largely on trade with America’s anchor ally in the region, though tensions with North Korea loomed large.

Pence reassured Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the US considers its alliance with Japan to be a cornerstone of security in the region, AP reported.

“We appreciate the challenging times in which the people of Japan live with increasing provocations from across the Sea of Japan,” Pence said.

“We are with you 100%,” he said, adding that the US “always seeks peace.”

Pence reiterated that after years of North Korea testing the US and its neighbors in East Asia with its nuclear ambitions, the US “era of strategic patience is over.”

Abe said Japan likewise hopes for peaceful dialogue with Pyongyang, “but at the same time, dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless”. “Pressure on North Korea is crucial,” he said.

Pence is on a 10-day Asia trip that will also take him to Indonesia and Australia.

Concluding a visit to South Korea that was mostly focused on the North Korea problem, Pence told business leaders in Seoul earlier Tuesday that the administration is taking a fresh look at trade agreements as part of its “America First” policy.

“We’re reviewing all of our trade agreements across the world to ensure that they benefit our economy as much as they benefit our trading partners,” Pence told the American Chamber of Commerce in South Korea.

Pence’s two main goals are to spur increased US access to Japanese markets and strengthen Japanese foreign investment, they said.

While Japan’s trade surplus with the US is much smaller than China’s, Trump has decried the imbalance, especially in auto exports.

For now, both sides seem keen to downplay potential for conflict.


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