Tokyo, US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump landed in Japan on Saturday, kicking off a highly anticipated state visit — with the President to become the first foreign leader to meet the newly-crowned Emperor Naruhito.
The US leader will hold his first meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and also play a round of golf with him on Sunday. Trump’s audience with Emperor Naruhito and the high-level political meetings are scheduled for Monday.
In their meeting, Trump and Abe are expected to discuss a number of regional and global issues, including the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the tensions between the US and Iran.
Trump’s trip comes amid fears among Japanese political and business leaders that US tariffs on the auto industry will have a crippling effect on the Asian nation’s economy.
Trump’s plane landed at the Haneda International Airport at 4.58 p.m. and he was received by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono – with whom he had brief chat – along with other dignitaries, Fox News reported.
The President’s first stop was a dinner with business leaders at the US Ambassador’s residence in Tokyo after a brief airport welcome.
Trump told reporters that he’s working to introduce “fairness and reciprocity” in the new American-Japanese trade agreement. “Japan has had a substantial edge for many, many years but that’s OK,” he told business leaders in Tokyo, noting that negotiators were “hard at work” on the trade talks.
He added that the new trade deal will “address the trade imbalance” and eliminate the existing “barriers to US exports”.
Japan enjoys a $70 billion trade surplus with the US, while it imports just a fraction of American goods and imposes protective measures against competition from other countries, a source of frustration for Trump, who sees tariffs as a corrective measure.
Japan, one of the countries most exposed to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests since 2006 as its neighbour, has been supporting Trump’s efforts to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to abandon his weapons programme.
However, Trump’s visit comes at a delicate time after the February summit between him and Kim failed to achieve a deal and Pyongyang resumed missile tests in earlier this month.
The US President is expected to raise the topic of Abe’s proposal to meet Kim unconditionally, which he made earlier this month without receiving a clear response from Pyongyang.
Tokyo is also expected to make efforts to reduce rising tensions between Washington and Tehran.
Public broadcaster NHK and other Japanese media on Saturday said that Abe was planning to visit Tehran in June, in what would be the first visit by a Japanese leader to the country since 1978.
Trump and Abe, meanwhile, will also attend the final of a sumo-wrestling competition, where the US President will award the trophy to the winner.