OSAKA – G20 Summit kick started off on Friday 28th June, with the scheduled bilateral meeting of President Trump and PM Abe taking place at 8.30 am on the margins of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.
As per the readout of Trump-Abe meeting released by the White House, the two leaders discussed “shared priorities for the G20 meeting, including their joint efforts to ensure respect for sovereignty, the rule of law and the principle of free, fair and reciprocal trade.”
PM Abe praised the strength of the Japan-U.S. Military Alliance and Trump thanked Japanese firms for creating thousands of jobs by building dozens of manufacturing plants in the United States.
At the outset of the meeting, PM Abe said “I visited United States in April this year and President Trump came to Japan as a State Guest last month followed by the G 20 now!”
PM Abe added that the frequency of travels by top leaders of the two countries is proof of the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance. In response, President Trump thanked Abe for his hospitality, including the state visit to Japan, where he became the first world leader to meet the new emperor earlier last month.
“We just left Japan and now we are back” Trump said and added that the whole world is talking about two visits in a month. President Trump said the day’s talks would focus on security and trade. He also thanked Japan for “sending many auto companies into Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and a lot of our states.”
“I see they are building all over the United States,” he said. “A lot of the great Japanese car companies, other Japanese companies also, but the car companies have set up magnificent plants. We have not had that, and we very much appreciate it.”
The cordial exchanges between Trump and Abe, however, may seem a bit odd given the fact President Trump strongly bashed the Japan-U.S. Security treaty earlier this week during an interview with Fox Business.
In the Fox Business interview Wednesday, Trump noted that under the military pact, which he has lambasted as unfair, Japan wouldn’t have to help the U.S. if it were attacked, though Washington would be required to come to Tokyo’s aid.
“If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War Three,” he said. President Trump reiterated in his typical style saying “we will go in and protect them with our lives and with our treasure. But if we are attacked, Japan does not have to help us, they can watch it on a Sony Television.”
To control any damage done by President Trump’s remarks in Fox Business interview, Foreign Minister Taro Kono met with National Security Adviser John Bolton on Thursday, a day before start of the summit in Osaka, in apparent preparation for the Trump-Abe meeting.
John Bolton tweeted “excellent meeting today in Osaka w/Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and National Security Adviser Shotaro Yachi.” As we work jointly with Japan to tackle complex global challenges “I am continuously reminded of the pivotal importance of our alliance that is global in scope.”
In the absence of an immediate trade deal with China, Trump has been frustrated by the fact that the U.S. and Japan have yet to ink a bilateral trade agreement. Thus, this bilateral meeting with PM Abe carried immense importance for Trump Administration.
As for the security pact, Trump may also be looking to cover more of the costs of American soldiers deployed here in Japan. Policy experts on U.S. in Japan cites President Trump may be intentionally using his criticism of the Japan-U.S. military arrangements as leverage in trade negotiations with Tokyo.
After the Fox Business interview, Japanese officials have rushed to control damage from Trump’s blunt criticism of the Japan-U.S. security treaty. On Friday in Tokyo, a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official was asked about Trump’s criticism of the Japan-U.S. security treaty. The official pointed out “Trump has kept saying the same things about the treaty for years, adding “that is different” from Japan’s view of the security arrangements.
Later same day in Osaka, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura stated that neither Trump nor Abe mentioned Trump’s criticism during Friday’s summit meeting.
“The two leaders agreed to further strengthen the unshakable Japan-U.S. alliance as they have done in the past,” Secretary Nishimura said. Further he said, “there was no discussion of revising the Japan-U.S. security treaty at all.”
As per the readout handed by the White House both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to U.S. Japan coordination, including on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran. They confirmed their intent to deepen and expand U.S.-Japan alliance cooperation around the globe, including taking steps to maintain the alliance’s technological advantage and bolstering systems to safeguard sensitive information and technology sharing.
Exclusive News Report By: Kanwal Abidi
*Kanwal Abidi is a staff journalist at the The AZB and is a White House Correspondent. She is in Osaka, Japan to cover the trip of President Trump to G20 Summit in Osaka. She tweets at @KANWALanalyst and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org