President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened two days of talks on Friday, focusing on trade and security. Fred Katayama reports.
President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicked off two days of talks in Washington with a hug. And Trump stayed away from his harsh campaign rhetoric. Abe said he was aware of Trump's decision to pull out from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. But he said the U.S. and Japan have agreed on a new framework for economic dialogue. James Gannon, executive director of the Japan Center for International Exchange says Abe came to Washington to pave the way for a bilateral trade deal, among other things. (SOUNDBITE) JAMES GANNON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JAPAN CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Prime Minister Abe really put his neck on the line to get this Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, deal forward to get Japan into it late, and they ratified it, actually, in the autumn, you know, the first country ratified, and now that that's collapsed, they really want to start to lay the groundwork for work on a bilateral free trade agreement. Of course that can't be, that can't do all the things that the multilateral TPP would do. But they see that as a second best." In the past, Trump has accused Japan of manipulating its currency and stealing American jobs. But after a press conference with Trump on Friday, Abe said he was "optimistic." He pledged Japan would help create American jobs. Trump, for his part, reaffirmed the U.S.' commitment to defend Japan, but said he expects more of a contribution. Abe said his country has already increased defense spending. Kevin Krolicki, editor at Reuters: (SOUNDBITE) JAMES GANNON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JAPAN CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "For many Americans, what happens over the weekend in Mar-a-Lago won't be at the top of the news, you know, it may not be first in mind for many people. It is in Japan. This will dominate the news cycle over the course of the coming days, and people will be looking for questions of substance to emerge from this meeting, but also they will be looking at the optics. They will be looking at how the two leaders seem to get on. That's very important. That's very important for Abe. It's, of course, very important, you know, to Japan's interest, and, I think, this is something that will be hugely and very closely scrutinized." Abe and Trump fly off to Palm Beach, Florida for a weekend stay at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.