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Mar. 10, 2015 - Updated 04:16 UTC

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Japan, US to Hold Summit

Feb. 10, 2017

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has arrived in Washington for a summit with US President Donald Trump. The visit is seen as especially important, as statements by Trump have raised concerns about ties between the 2 longtime allies.

Last November, Abe met with Trump shortly after the New York businessman won the presidency.

"I am convinced that Mr. Trump is a leader I can trust," Abe said at the time.

Now almost 10 weeks later, Abe is set to become the first Asian leader to meet with Trump since he took office. At the meeting, security ties are expected to be high on the agenda. During the election campaign, Trump said he may demand that US allies, including Japan, shoulder a greater burden.

"The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the US must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves," Trump said last April.

But earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Japan and offered reassurance that the alliance will be strengthened.

"I made it clear that our long-standing policy on the Senkaku Islands stands. The United States will continue to recognize Japanese administration of the islands, and as such Article 5 of the US-Japan security treaty applies," US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said.

Article 5 obliges the US to defend Japan against aggression. Japan controls the Senkakus in the East China Sea. The Japanese government maintains that the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. China and Taiwan claim them.

After the summit, Japanese and US officials are planning to release a joint statement. Sources say it will likely state that the security treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands. Other important topics expected to be addressed at the summit are trade and economic policies -- areas where Trump has directly criticized Japan.

"We sell a car into Japan, and they do things to us that make it impossible to sell cars in Japan. And yet, they sell cars instead," Trump has said since taking office. "We have to talk about that. It's not fair."

"Every other country lives on devaluation. You look at what China is doing, you look at what Japan has done over the years. They play the money market, the devaluation market and we sit there like a bunch of dummies," Trump said.

Trump's statements have put some Japanese businesses on the defensive. Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda recently said his company produces a large number of cars in the US, and that it has built up a strong local supply chain.

"I hope Toyota will be seen as basically a US automaker," Toyoda said.

As for accusations of currency manipulation, Abe says that Japan's monetary policy aims to achieve 2 percent inflation. He's called criticism that Japan is letting the yen fall inappropriate.

Trump has also pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal favored by Abe. The President says he wants to pursue bilateral negotiations instead.

Abe plans to propose a new framework to allow Cabinet-level members of both countries to discuss issues. They include macroeconomic measures, trade policies and joint projects such as infrastructure improvement.

"I hope the summit will send a clear message that the Japan-US alliance is unwavering, and will become even stronger and more resilient under President Trump," Abe said.

In a few hours, Abe will meet Trump at the White House. The president has invited the prime minister to fly with him on Air Force One to his private resort in Florida.

There, Trump will host a dinner for Abe, and later the 2 leaders are scheduled to play golf.


Professor Fumiko Nishizaki, an expert on US politics and diplomacy at the University of Tokyo, joins anchor Sho Beppu in the studio. Please click on the video above to watch the full interview.