politics

Trade issues expose limits of Trump-Abe 'bromance'

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By Zeke Miller and Jill Colvin

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NOw turn around and touch your toes!

3 ( +10 / -7 )

But when pressed on the economic disagreements, Abe repeatedly consulted notes as he tried to sidestep questions on the contentious issues

The issues are only contentious because they are not fair and the US wants to make them fair.

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

Now we will see an Abe refocussed on China.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

He's met with the billionaire businessman more than any other world leader, and he is Trump's second-most frequent caller.

He's become Trump's geisha and humiliated his country and countrymen along with himself.

Yet the "bromance" between Trump and Abe has its limits.

What bromance?! This is nothing more than a japanese media hype to make Abe look like an effective leader. Neither of which are true.

Prime Minister Abe and I have spent a lot of time today, and we really spent a lot of time since I got elected. And right from the beginning we hit it off. The relationship is a very good one," Trump said as the pair sat down

well of course he's going to say that. The man is right next to him.

The session on trade and economic issues quickly turned tense and tough, according to two U.S. officials, as the leaders found themselves at an impasse on the tariffs.

Japan has had a playbook by which it sticks to. Refuse to open up to world while insisting that the status quo remain for its products. They stick to their guns until the other side finally gives up. And they are finding that this strategy isn't going to work with this administration and with this guy.

I hate to say it, but Trump might just be the only guy who can wade through the Japanese BS because he himself is a BS artist. Takes one to know one. Both leaders are more similar than one might think, and I suspect that is the source of their tension.

-2 ( +15 / -17 )

Japan has had a playbook by which it sticks to. Refuse to open up to world while insisting that the status quo remain for its products.

nailed it

Trump is trying to undo the ridiculous policies of past administrations, especially bend-over-backwards-to-please-everyone-except-Americans Obama

-8 ( +8 / -16 )

A total failure for Abe. This will not help him in the polls !

We're comfortable. We have great relationships"

...Great relationships ? You mean with the ones you didn't insult yet, right ?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

In 2016, Japan exported $605B and imported $583B, resulting in a positive trade balance of $21.6B.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Trump said he wants “free and equal” trade with Japan. Japan does not do “free and equal.” TPP is mainly an agricultural issue, because most members in the treaty are agricultural exporters. When Japan began demanding exemptions for agricultural imports, TPP was doomed.

Abe and the LDP depend on two things to maintain political power and wealth. First, they depend on the rural vote, as rural voters get up to 3.3 votes per person. The LDP buys these votes with heavy subsidies, and keeping imported foods uncompetitive with domestically-grown food. This is how the LDP has maintained almost perpetual power for 7 decades.

Second, by keeping Japan’s market all but closed to foreign competitors, the LDP is richly rewarded by Japan Inc.

Abe and his party would lose power if trade were liberalized, therefore it will not be liberalized.

Trump does not like Abe, who refused to see Trump before the election, kowtowing to Hillary instead. It was a fatal mistake, and Trump never forgets or forgives a slight. When Trump was publicly insulted by Obama in 2011 (however much he deserved it) at the White House correspondents dinner, he took it personally, and that it very likely why he is president now, and, and why he is taking care to eradicate everything Obama did during his terms.

Trump will not back down, too many elderly voters who lost their jobs in the 70’s and 80’s to Japanese imports would never forgive him. Abe is not likley to back down, he and the LDP would rather sink the ship than surrender their power.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

In 2016, Japan exported $605B and imported $583B, resulting in a positive trade balance of $21.6B.

The bulk of those imports were gas and oil, which are being burned in vast amounts as the nuclear reactors remain shut down.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

sangetsu03Today  08:52 am JST

Trump will not back down, too many elderly voters who lost their jobs in the 70’s and 80’s to Japanese imports would never forgive him. 

And here we have the crux of the issue. Both sides aren't actually trying to make trade fair because it was never unfair to begin with. What we have are two sides catering a minority demographic in their own country as a voter base. Trump wants concessions on protecting American car manufacturers because his voters are fixated on the issue they lost 50 years ago to Japan, while Abe is fixated on protecting Japanese farmers because in Japanese elections they just count more than city folk.

They will never be able to reach an agreement because they aren't actually negotiating. They aren't even really discussing the same issue. They're just playing a performance to fool their hard-core supporters into not noticing the many scandals piling up around them.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Good to hear Abe playing Trump like the fool he is. If all it takes is flattery to calm him down and distract, then it must be done

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

So essentially the "Summit" was not a great success.

The soft stuff - against naughty NK and the abductees issue - had already been confirmed countless times. We didn't need to hear it again - we know their policies and rhetoric regarding it.

The crunch stuff was economics (Trumps self-described expertise) esp trade, tariffs & tpp.

The glowing result of those deliberations through cheeseburgers - nothing topped with a bit of fluff.

Go Abe.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

"...and throughout the two-day summit, Abe appeared keen to praise the president at every opportunity."

And now I get to teach the term "brown nose" to my co-workers at the office again. Love how he has a "great food relationship" with Abe, then says the same thing when meeting Obama for sushi at a high-class restaurant. The guy is as opaque as a window with no glass. So much for getting the exception, Abe.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Absolutely stomach-churning, the way Abe is putting a positive spin on everything and acting the usual lapdog, agreeing and nodding. Sure, he's glad Trump's meeting Kim. Yeah, sure.

That drawing with Trump and Piers Morgan? Morgan should be replaced with Abe.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

dcog9065Today  09:08 am JST

Good to hear Abe playing Trump like the fool he is.

And, as usual, achieving nothing at all. Odd how everyone else can see that but Abe's faithful lackeys can't.

If all it takes is flattery to calm him down and distract, then it must be done

I didn't know that calming Trump down and distracting him was Abe's main objective.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Wouldn't call it a 'bromance'. Abe's one of the few world leaders who doesn't mind a mere sidekick role (to DT). It's an alliance of convenience between 2 socially awkward blokes who do not know how to build meaningful relationships.

That's why we get this awkward/diplomatic/fake dialogue of the deaf i.e. "You guys should buy more us-made stuff, ok?!"..."huh...i love mar a lago! Please raise the abduction issue with KJU, ok?"...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Keep in mind, for free trade, trump wants a fair playing field for truly free trade.

Without the tricks of hidden trade barriers that drive up the cost of American goods.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Ray PayneToday  10:01 am JST

Keep in mind, for free trade, trump wants a fair playing field for truly free trade.

Abe doesn't. If the high tariffs go so does the LDP's over-protected, over-represented rural base that they need for their election-winning scam.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Japan remains the only major U.S. ally not to be exempted from the tariffs announced last month.

Maybe Japan shouldn't be so accommodating then.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The most recent imports are led by Crude Petroleum which represent 8.69% of the total imports of Japan, followed by Petroleum Gas, which account for 5.88%.

https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/jpn/

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Good to hear Abe playing Trump like the fool he is. If all it takes is flattery to calm him down and distract, then it must be done

Lol...good one....since Abe was the one who rushed into seeing Trump as Shinzo  felt sidelined by the NK developments which reduced Japan to a bystander as well as needing a win to divert attention from Moritomo , Kake and MoF scandals and didnt achieve much apart from issuing a statement that they are "side by side" on NK, the meeting was pretty much a failure.

Abe didn,t play Trump one bit, he got played by Donny who didn,t  budge , however much his cheer squad might  try to put a positive spin on it.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

marcelitoToday  10:39 am JST

"Good to hear Abe playing Trump like the fool he is. If all it takes is flattery to calm him down and distract, then it must be done"

Lol...good one....

I don't think it was a joke. It looks more like a transparent, failed attempt to spin bad news into good. I think there was a consensus that Abe needed a big, impressive win here to deflect attention away from his domestic problems with his supposedly masterful diplomacy, and he didn't get one. It must be hard to draw anything at all positive from that, and the best that anyone has managed makes Abe look like a grovelling sycophant.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

So in other words all they've got is N.Korea....some friendship that is

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The bulk of those imports were gas and oil, which are being burned in vast amounts as the nuclear reactors remain shut down.

nukes are shut down because this country should never have them. We have many resources. Geothermal, solar, wind and tidal. Enough for a nation of 127million.

regarding Abe’s visit to trump, as everything he has ever done in his life, he was a loser.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

And here we have the crux of the issue. Both sides aren't actually trying to make trade fair because it was never unfair to begin with

This is false, and has always been false, trade has never been fair. In the post-war years, America granted Japan nearly free access to the American market so as to Japan’s economy on it’s feet.

During the decades of Japan’s strongest growth, Japan was a blatant currency manipulator, and was not stopped until the Plaza Accord of 1986.

Japan’s economy was and is dominated by a handful of companies who used their leverage with the LDP to negotiate one-sided trade deals around the world, Japanese lobbyists were renowned for their deep pockets. Those foreign goods which were not tariffed were subject to limited distribution, and were priced out of competition.

With no foreign competitors, Japan Inc was able to fix prices on domestic goods as well, even today Japanese goods cost more in Japan than America or Europe.

Trade has never been fair.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

sangetsu03Today  12:14 pm JST

This is false, and has always been false,

Perhaps you're referencing Prez. Spanky's "bowling ball test"?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I've heard Trump talk a lot about unfair trade etc, but I've never actually seen the details of why he feels this. I don't just mean the trade imbalance, because this doesn't necessarily mean that the trading conditions are unfair. I mean actual details about why he feels he's been cheated by almost every country in the world. Does anyone have any details?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Abe has had a successful summit. The President has promised to address Japans concerns with NK. (Abductions).

I thought that is what Abe wanted.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The proof is in the pudding. What percentage of the US market does Japan enjoy? How common are Japanese products? What percentage of the Japanese market does America enjoy? How common are American products?

Only 7% of cars on Japanese roads are imports. Before anyone says something stupid like American cars not being suitable for Japanese roads, what about Korean cars? British cars? Italian cars? French cars? The market is essentially closed.

In the current drama, Abe is desperate to placate Trump, which is why he has spent so much brown-nosing. Japan has far more to lose in a dispute than America does.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Abe has had a successful summit. The President has promised to address Japans concerns with NK. (Abductions). I thought that is what Abe wanted.

Think again...Abe wanted Japan to be exempted from the US steel tarrifs and for US to go back into TPP in order to avoid "bilateral trade deal ". Donny boss didn,t blink and Sinzo got neither.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Only 7% of cars on Japanese roads are imports. 

sangetsu you nailed it, and if you checked agricultural products and computer related products you would probably find similar differences in Japan's fleecing America in the import/export ratio

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Abe wanted Japan to be exempted from the US steel tarrifs and for US to go back into TPP in order to avoid "bilateral trade deal ".

Yes Abe wants President Trump to consider those two issues too. Steel and Aluminium tarrifs are part of his America First policy, which is legislation for the USA. I would have thought that it is up to Japans Department of Trade to put it's case to the USA for exemption.

As for TPP. President Trump has always made it clear that he was against it. TPP is a matter for the USA.

But President Trump has agreed to take Japans concerns to heart at the planned summit with NK's Kim Jong Un. I thought that was PM reason for wanting a summit with President Trump. He has been successful.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan remains the only major U.S. ally not to be exempted from the tariffs announced last month.

Japan can take retaliatory measures such as stopping American rice quota.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Ex_ResToday 03:36 pm JST

{Abe] has been successful.

You could say that if you ignore everything that happened on Wednesday.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sangetsu03Today  12:14 pm JST

You say it well and so true.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

ClippetyClopToday  01:25 pm JST

Hidden trade barriers to inhibit and restrict and drive up the cost of American products are many. Try looking into the Japanese requirements for processed food additives for one.

Hidden trade barriers are more detrimental to free trade that the tariffs themselves.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

tinawatanabeToday  04:35 pm JST

Japan's tariff on American rice is 787 % plus freight and insurance, plus 4 levels of 8%

Pray tell me the name of a market where I can buy American rice?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Under the a forced WTO agreement Japan imports millions of tons of California rice but is not sold for human consumption instead it's used for animal feed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just because the American pat you on your head doesn't indicate there are any "bromance" between the two countries/leaders as euphoria-ted by the Japanese press.

One is the master, and the other is the vassal. I'll let you guess which is which.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Please just use "Bromance" only for those two. Never to be in textbook of history it will be a bromance of good relation of Japan and USA. To me it's a dark time "jet-lag" to see those guys acting better world to come.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan's tariff on American rice is 787 % plus freight and insurance, plus 4 levels of 8%

If these statistics are correct, I can now understand why Japan has not been given an exception from the 25% steel and 10% Alumimium import tariffs to the United States.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Merkel spanken Trump, who then spanked Abe. Anyone care to imagine what would happen if Merkel and Abe meet?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sangetsu03Apr. 20  02:35 pm JST

The proof is in the pudding. What percentage of the US market does Japan enjoy? 

No, that's faulty reasoning. For trade to be unfair you must be able to identify specific government policies that make it unfair. Blaming outcomes for being less than perfectly balanced as proof of unfair trade is absurd. You may as well claim the fact that I shop at 7-11 more than Familymart is somehow "unfair".

Unless of course you want to implement some kind of hyper-socialist system where all citizens of all countries are required to purchase an equal amount of products from all countries, even if they don't want to. But I thought people who wanted fair trade were against that sort of thing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hidden trade barriers are more detrimental to free trade that the tariffs themselves.

US has never specified what are those hidden trade barriers are.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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