In Ja­pan, pres­i­dent keys on trade deficit

But he says he’s not yet push­ing for deal

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TOKYO — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump opened a state visit to Ja­pan on Sat­ur­day by re­mind­ing the Amer­i­can ally of its trade im­bal­ance with the United States — though he also tamped down ex­pec­ta­tions for a break­through in talks dur­ing his trip.

Fox News White House cor­re­spon­dent John Roberts tweeted early to­day that Trump called him this morn­ing in Tokyo and said that, while he and Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe will dis­cuss trade dur­ing meet­ings to­day and Mon­day, Trump in­tends to wait un­til af­ter Ja­pan’s July elec­tions to push for a deal.

Trump pre­vi­ously said a U.S.-Ja­pan trade deal could be fi­nal­ized dur­ing his trip, even though the two sides were still fig­ur­ing out the pa­ram­e­ters of the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The call to Roberts ap­par­ently came hours af­ter the pres­i­dent’s first event in Tokyo — a re­cep­tion with sev­eral dozen Ja­pa­nese and Amer­i­can busi­ness lead­ers at the U.S. am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence. At that event, Trump said the two coun­tries “are

hard at work” ne­go­ti­at­ing the trade agree­ment, which he said would re­move bar­ri­ers to U.S. ex­ports and would ben­e­fit both coun­tries.

“I would say that Ja­pan has had a sub­stan­tial edge for many, many years, but that’s OK,” Trump said, jok­ing to the Ja­pa­nese that “maybe that’s why you like me so much.”

Ja­pan’s trade sur­plus with the United States surged al­most 18% in April from a year ago, to $6.6 bil­lion, even as Ja­pan’s to­tal ex­ports fell for the fifth-straight month.

Trump pro­moted the U.S.’ stand­ing un­der his lead­er­ship, say­ing that “there’s never been a bet­ter time” to in­vest or do busi­ness in Amer­ica, and he urged cor­po­rate lead­ers to come.

He also praised the “very spe­cial” U.S.-Ja­pan al­liance that he said “has never been stronger, it’s never been more pow­er­ful, never been closer.”

Trump has threat­ened to im­pose 25% tar­iffs on for­eign cars, in­clud­ing Ja­pa­nese au­to­mo­biles and auto parts, although he re­cently an­nounced that the mea­sure would be delayed six months to al­low for talks on ways to restrict im­port vol­umes. Du­ties on the auto in­dus­try would be more dev­as­tat­ing to the Ja­pa­nese econ­omy than ear­lier tar­iffs on steel and alu­minum.

Trump also wants Ja­pan to cut agri­cul­tural tar­iffs. Ja­pan has al­ready reached a deal with the Eu­ro­pean Union and is part of the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, an 11-na­tion trade deal, and both pacts have re­sulted in prom­ises to cut agri­cul­tural tar­iffs for a swath of coun­tries.

But Trump with­drew the U.S. from the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, a deal that di­vided politi­cians on both sides of the aisle and that was also op­posed in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign by Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton. Be­cause of the with­drawal, U.S. pork, wheat and barley exporters are said to be un­der pres­sure from Ja­pa­nese tar­iffs.

Mil­i­tary is­sues are also on Trump’s agenda dur­ing the trip. Trump is keen to get Ja­pan to pay more of the cost of sta­tion­ing U.S. troops in the coun­try, although Tokyo says it al­ready cov­ers most of the costs and that it pays a higher pro­por­tion than other host na­tions.

Bring­ing the troops back to the U.S. would be more ex­pen­sive, it says.

FOR­EIGN-POL­ICY IS­SUES

Also at is­sue is the lin­ger­ing threat of North Korea, which re­cently fired a se­ries of short-range mis­siles de­spite an agree­ment for a mo­ra­to­rium on fur­ther test­ing.

Early to­day, Trump tweeted, “North Korea fired off some small weapons, which dis­turbed some of my peo­ple, and oth­ers, but not me.”

Trump may have been re­fer­ring in part to his na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, John Bolton, who told re­porters Sat­ur­day that the short-range mis­sile tests are a vi­o­la­tion of U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil resolution­s. The tests also alarmed Ja­pan, where short-range mis­siles pose a se­ri­ous threat.

Trump said he “has con­fi­dence” that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “will keep his prom­ise to me.”

In the same tweet, Trump em­braced North Korea’s crit­i­cism of one of Trump’s Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial ri­vals. Trump tweeted that he “smiled” when Kim “called Swamp­man Joe Bi­den a low IQ in­di­vid­ual, & worse. Per­haps that’s send­ing me a sig­nal?” An early ver­sion of the tweet mis­spelled the for­mer vice pres­i­dent’s name.

Af­ter Bi­den called Kim a tyrant dur­ing a re­cent speech, North Korea la­beled Bi­den a “fool of low IQ” and an “im­be­cile bereft of el­e­men­tary qual­ity as a hu­man be­ing.”

On an­other is­sue, Trump said early to­day that he would ask for an “ex­pe­dited ap­peal” against a Cal­i­for­nia judge’s rul­ing late Fri­day that plans to build the wall on the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der can’t go for­ward with­out his re­view.

The in­junc­tion by U.S. Dis­trict Judge Hay­wood Gil­liam pro­hibits the ad­min­is­tra­tion from start­ing work at two sites where con­tracts have been awarded, in Ari­zona and Texas.

In a Twit­ter mes­sage at 4:35 a.m. Tokyo time, Trump called the de­ci­sion “a rul­ing against Bor­der Se­cu­rity” by “an­other ac­tivist Obama ap­pointed judge.”

Trump and Abe are also ex­pected to dis­cuss Iran af­ter Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment that the U.S. will send an ad­di­tional 1,500 troops to the Mid­dle East to counter what the ad­min­is­tra­tion says are in­creased threats from the Is­lamic Repub­lic. Ja­pan has long-stand­ing diplo­matic and cultural ties to Iran, and it op­posed the U.S. de­ci­sion to pull out of the Iran nu­clear agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated by then-Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

On Sat­ur­day, Ja­pa­nese me­dia said a plan was be­ing drawn up for Abe to visit Iran in June to meet with Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani in an at­tempt to me­di­ate the dis­pute. The me­dia said Ja­pan’s leader would dis­cuss that with Trump.

Bolton de­clined to com­ment Sat­ur­day when asked about pos­si­ble Ja­pa­nese me­di­a­tion, ex­cept to say the two lead­ers will “cer­tainly dis­cuss Iran.”

TRUMP’S VISIT

Abe has planned a largely cer­e­mo­nial four-day visit for the pres­i­dent.

The two lead­ers met at Mo­bara Coun­try Club, south of Tokyo, early to­day to play a round of golf. It’s the fifth time they’ve golfed to­gether.

Later to­day, Abe was sched­uled to in­tro­duce Trump to sumo wrestling by tak­ing him to sit ring­side at a cham­pi­onship match. There, Trump would have the chance to present his “Pres­i­dent’s Cup” tro­phy to the win­ner. The White House said the tro­phy is nearly 5 feet tall and weighs be­tween 60 pounds and 70 pounds.

To­day is sched­uled to in­clude a din­ner dou­ble date with the two lead­ers and their wives.

On Mon­day, Trump and Abe plan to meet in a more for­mal set­ting and par­tic­i­pate in a joint news con­fer­ence.

That night, Trump will at­tend a for­mal ban­quet at Ja­pan’s Im­pe­rial Palace and be­come the first head of state to meet Em­peror Naruhito since he as­cended to the throne this month. The ab­di­ca­tion of Naruhito’s fa­ther, Em­peror Emer­i­tus Ak­i­hito, marked the first time a Ja­pa­nese em­peror had stood down in more than two cen­turies.

“With all the coun­tries of the world, I’m the guest of honor at the big­gest event that they’ve had in over 200 years,” Trump said of the ban­quet be­fore the trip.

On Tues­day, the pres­i­dent will tour a Ja­pa­nese air­craft car­rier, a flat-top that car­ries he­li­copters but is be­ing con­verted to carry U.S. F-35B fighter jets, which are ca­pa­ble of short takeoffs and ver­ti­cal landings. The stop is de­signed to un­der­line Ja­pan’s will­ing­ness to help de­fend it­self and to pur­chase Amer­i­can mil­i­tary hard­ware when do­ing so.

Trump is also sched­uled to ad­dress U.S. sailors aboard the USS Wasp, sta­tioned at Yoko­suka south of Tokyo, be­fore re­turn­ing to Wash­ing­ton.

Ja­pan’s prime min­is­ter has been fo­cused on main­tain­ing a close re­la­tion­ship with Trump. The pair have spo­ken by tele­phone or met in per­son more than 40 times since late 2016.

The sum­mit is the sec­ond of three sched­uled meet­ings in three months: Abe and his wife, Akie, cel­e­brated first lady Mela­nia Trump’s birth­day dur­ing a White House din­ner last month, and Trump is ex­pected to re­turn to Ja­pan next month for the Group of 20 meet­ing of rich and de­vel­op­ing na­tions.

AP/EVAN VUCCI

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Ja­pa­nese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe head for a round of golf to­day at Mo­bara Coun­try Club south of Tokyo. Later, they were to sit ring­side at a sumo wrestling match.

AP/Ky­odo News/KOJI HARADA

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s mo­tor­cade gets an es­cort to the U.S. am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence in Tokyo on Sat­ur­day.

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