Their chem­istry, as Trump called it, does not nec­es­sar­ily mean Japan is in Trump’s good books ...

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Views -

But af­ter Trump’s diplo­matic re­ver­sal on Py­ongyang, Abe sud­denly be­came flex­i­ble vis-à-vis the DPRK — he, too, seeks a faceto-face meet­ing with Kim, which could take place in June, ac­cord­ing to the Asahi Shim­bun. The Ja­panese prime min­is­ter wants to raise the is­sue of Ja­panese cit­i­zens pur­port­edly ab­ducted by DPRK agents in the 1970s and 1980s. Ac­cord­ing to Japan’s of­fi­cial list, 17 Ja­panese were ab­ducted by DPRK agents. Py­ongyang, on the other hand, says it sent back five Ja­panese cit­i­zens to Japan in 2002, while eight died. As for the other four, Py­ongyang says they never en­tered the DPRK.

Still, Japan was sur­prised at be­ing omit­ted from the list of US al­lies ex­empted from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s new tar­iffs of 25 per­cent on im­ported steel and 10 per­cent on alu­minum. But un­like the Euro­pean Union and other US al­lies that threat­ened coun­ter­mea­sures to the US’ puni­tive tar­iffs, Japan says it will “pa­tiently” ask for an ex­emp­tion.

The Repub­lic of Korea has been ex­cluded from the new US tar­iffs, but not be­fore ne­go­ti­at­ing a trade deal with the US. On Wed­nes­day, the two sides inked an agree­ment, which, Trump said makes the best sense for US com­pa­nies and work­ers. The deal opens up the ROK’s mar­ket to US au­to­mo­biles, ex­tends tar­iffs on ROK truck ex­ports, and re­stricts, by nearly one-third, the amount of steel the ROK can ex­port to the US.

Trump has of­ten taken a dig at Japan, be­fore and dur­ing his pres­i­dency. “You know we have a treaty with Japan where if Japan is at­tacked, we have to use the full force and might of the United States,” he said in Iowa in Au­gust 2016. “If we’re at­tacked, Japan doesn’t have to do any­thing. They can sit home and watch Sony tele­vi­sion, OK?”

When an­nounc­ing up to $60 bil­lion in tar­iffs against China on March 22, Trump again di­rected a barb at Japan and Abe. “I’ll talk to Prime Min­is­ter Abe of Japan and oth­ers — great guy, friend of mine — and there will be a lit­tle smile on their face,” Trump said. “And the smile is, ‘I can’t be­lieve we’ve been able to take ad­van­tage of the United States for so long’. So those days are over.”

Tokyo could face the co­er­cive ne­go­ti­a­tion tac­tics Wash­ing­ton used against Seoul for bi­lat­eral free trade talks. To get a clear pic­ture of the US’ pol­icy to­ward the DPRK and get Japan out of the White House’s new tar­iff list, Abe has de­cided to meet with Trump.

Does Abe still have the same con­fi­dence in Trump that he had af­ter their first meet­ing?

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