Japan, China hold high level economic dialogue after 8 years

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Japan's Shinzo Abe became the first foreign leader to meet President Trump after the USA election, and he returns for another face-to-face on Tuesday.

Both leaders are suffering from a series of scandals in their home countries - Mr Trump is positioning for the midterms and Mr Abe's government has been hit by fresh revelations that have deepened cronyism and coverup suspicions. As cracks in both materialize, that's where the Mar-a-Lago summit becomes important, he continued.

In response, the White House made clear Trump is concerned about the security of US allies in addition to the American people.

As my colleagues report, the Trump administration has recently ruffled feathers in Tokyo.

However, the tasks facing Abe are complicated by the development of the situation around North Korea, which is unfavorable for Japan.

Abe is also expected to push for exemptions on new USA tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that have been granted to several key US allies.

Under pressure from Republican lawmakers and governors from farm states last week, Trump asked his top economic advisers to take another look at the TPP, which Japan and other countries revived after the USA exit.

Another golf outing, as at their Mar-a-Lago and Tokyo meetings in 2017, is being planned, a Japanese official said. This year, he seems to be mired in a much bigger trap, of his own making. Abe said in parliament that he would seek assurances from Trump that during the meeting with Kim Jong-un he would raise the issue of eliminating all North Korean missiles capable of reaching Japan.

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Kono said that regardless of the country provoking this collision, it would have great impact on prosperity of world economy.

But with Abe's approval rating languishing at its lowest level in years and Trump mired in controversies and crises too numerous to list, both are under pressure.

"Japanese officials are intent on ensuring that Trump pushes to reduce the threat posed by the North's short- and medium-range missiles, in addition to its nuclear arsenal and intercontinental ballistic missiles", my colleagues reported. His tough response to North Korean missile testing last year was a key part of his election campaign during last year's snap election.

The U.S. itself is pushing for the release of three Americans. Equally, the timing of economic talks between China and Japan, shortly before Abe meets Trump, is extremely interesting. The rows come as Abe prepares to stand later this year for reelection as party leader, a vote he was once expected to win handily.

On trade, Abe got a fleeting glimmer of hope last week when it emerged that Trump was weighing a return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the regional free-trade pact long supported by the Japanese.

China and Japan rarely see eye to eye, but the two sides are increasingly cooperating on issues of trade. So far, the Japanese have shown little appetite for such talks. "The risk of a transactional "America First" foreign policy is that it plants doubts on allies as to whether joint interests will guide American strategy and actions", wrote Mireya Solis of the Brookings Institution. The two ministers have agreed on the importance of organizing the respective visits of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to China and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Japan.

The Nikkei Asian Review said in an analysis on Monday: "The fact that Japan faces a similar, if less severe, (trade) challenge gives Beijing an opportunity to pull Tokyo closer to its orbit with the economic talks". "No third term for him as the party president", Koizumi, who was prime minister between 2001 and 2006, said in an interview published by the weekly magazine Aera on Monday.

Abe's meeting with Trump at the latter's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida comes at a challenging time, as the Japanese premier is confronting a series of domestic scandals and global policy divisions.

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